By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Security forces in Rio de Janeiro, along with Brazilian Army and Navy troops, have been conducting a major offensive against organized crime in four favela communities since dawn today (August 5th), as part of the second phase of the National Security Plan in the state.
Altogether, 3,600 troops participated in the operation to combat highjacking and drug trafficking this morning, including officers and soldiers from the Federal Police, the Federal Highway Police and the National Security Force.
Government news sources report operations are concentrated in the Complexo do Lins and Camarista Méier favelas, near Morro São João in Engenho Novo in Zona Norte (North Zone), and in Complexo da Covanca, in Praça Seca, of Jacarepaguá, in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) of the city.
Erismar Mesquita, an employee of a neighborhood bakery, told O Globo news, “I live near here. When I went down the street, I was asked for my identity. Everything draws attention of course.” She added “I see it in a positive way. May our safety improve. There are many assaults here.”
According to the Secretary of State for Security (SESEG), Operation Onerat (‘Cargo’ in Latin) has the purpose of combating highjacking in Rio de Janeiro. The operation marks the beginning of the second phase of integrated action with the federal government.
The Armed Forces set up a siege in some of these regions based at strategic points. Some streets are closed down and airspaces are controlled for civil aircraft in areas overlapping the Armed Forces’ service sectors. Authorities confirm there is no interference in airport operations.
It has been reported that at the beginning of the action, a man was shot during the arrival of the occupying forces at Morro São João and was taken to the Municipal Hospital Salgado Filho, in Méier, with injuries and later died.
Estrada Grajaú-Jacarepaguá, which connects the neighborhoods of the two districts of the north and the west of the city, is closed to vehicle traffic in both directions, for safety measures.
After a massive show of force last weekend, the nearly 10,000 federal troops sent to Rio as part of the National Security Plan have made it clear their operations will not simply be patrolling the streets, as they had during Carnival last year and the Olympics and 2014 World Cup.
The scale of action is similar to the massive occupation and pacification operations of 2010 in Complexo do Alemão and 2011 in Rocinha, before the UPP was implemented. The Rocina occupation was widely announced before-hand, and carried out by approximately 3,000 troops without a shot fired.
Defense Minister Raul Jungmann was in Rio de Janeiro on July 27th to announce the new plan in the state, which will operate until the end of 2018. Describing the federal military efforts, Jungmann said there will be a ‘focus on three pillars: integration, intelligence and surprise’.