By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Policing has been stepped up in Rocinha following the discovery of three male bodies in the early hours of Monday after a bout of intense gun fire. The increased presence includes the Batalhão de Choque (Shock BP) and the Batalhão de Operações Especiais (BOPE) Military Police in the favela community.
Despite the fact the favela has been occupied by police forces since November, when its chief drug lords were believed to have been arrested, military police suspect the deaths occurred as a result of a fight between rival drug gangs.
According to a report in O Globo newspaper, police apprehended five pistols, three grenades, ammunition and 1,505 bags of cocaine at the scene.
They also report that a notebook was found detailing drug dealing transactions, along with chemical substances used for mixing and extending cocaine.
The community suffered the murder of two other men linked to the drugs trade on February 16th. One of them was believed to have been the right-hand man of Antônio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, aka Nem, Rocinha’s ex-chief drug trafficker.
Rocinha residents report that drug dealers returned to the favela shortly after BOPE retreated following their initial invasion in November.
Neighboring favela community Vidigal was ‘pacified’ during the same operation and has already received a UPP (Police Pacification Unit) in January. Rocinha is still awaiting the installation of a UPP, which is expected to arrive in the first half of this year.
Some reports suggest that residents are being intimidated by drug dealers and are no longer cooperating with the police as a result. Concerns are being raised that police might be losing their grip on the community which was always Rio’s most strategically important drug dealing hub.
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