By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian Armed Forces are conducting an operation today (Thursday, June 21st) in the favela communities of Babilônia and Chapéu Mangueira, just behind Leme, along the beach of Zona Sul (South Zone) in the city of Rio de Janeiro, as part of the federal intervention of public security in the state.
Authorities say that criminal factions dominating the two favelas have been vying for control of drug outlets for several days now. The operation involves 1,800 military personnel and fifty military police officers, and an encirclement of the communities, patrols, vehicle inspections, criminal background checks and barricade removal.
This follows the June 11th report of seven dead men found in the waters around Urca, who authorities say were killed after military police tried to stop a drug war between two rival groups in the Morro da Babilonia and Chapeu Mangueira favelas behind Leme.
Family members of the deceased men admitted to local media that they were involved in drug trafficking, but also accused the military police of executing them. The affluent residential neighborhoods of Leme and Urca are separated by a large rock formation and wooded area below.
This situation is in tragic contrast to the peace and prosperity the communities experienced following the UPP (Police Pacification Unit) presence in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Unfortunately the UPP has since been dismantled, an economic crisis has swept the city, and Morro da Babilonia and Chapeu Mangueira are once again gripped in violence and state security was taken over by the military.
Other deadly clashes with security forces took place in the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio, where yesterday (Wednesday, June 20th), a joint action by the civil police and army in the Complexo da Maré favela community resulted in the deaths of seven more people, including a fourteen-year-old who was shot near the school where he was studying.
Marcos Vinicius da Silva was taken to Hospital Getúlio Vargas and underwent surgery, but he did not survive his injuries. Soon after the death, at the end of the night, residents made protests in which they closed the Brazil Avenue and the Red Line. Protesters even set a bus on fire.
According to the civil police, the purpose of the operation was to serve 23 arrest warrants and arrest suspects who participated in the murder of the chief of operations of the Drug Enforcement Office (DCOD), who died with a bullet in the head last week during police operation, in the favela of Acari. Some Complexo da Maré communities are dominated by the same faction that controls the sale of Acari drugs.