By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This morning, Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela, and Vidigal, became the most recent communities to be pacified by Brazil’s military and police forces – without shots fired. The operation included BOPE, the Marines and other special armed forces and police squadrons using armored vehicles and helicopters – as a precursor to the installation of Rio’s nineteenth UPP (Police Pacification Unit).
Around 7AM, the Chief of the Military Police, Colonel Alberto Pinheiro Neto made the official announcement of the occupation. Local media reports he said the situation was under control in Rocinha, and that there were no incidents or shots fired.
Operation Choque de Paz (“Shock of Peace”) got underway at around 2:30AM this morning as police installed roadblocks, and is being labeled “historic” by Brazilian media and “even bigger” than that in Complexo do Alemão a year ago.
According to the Secretary of Security of Rio, about 3,000 men of military police, civil and federal, and military Marine Corps participated in the operation, which was backed by four helicopters.
The commander of Special Operations Battalion (BOPE), Lieutenant Colonel Wilma Alonso Rene Goncalves, said nobody was arrested during the operation. He said police BOPE are in various parts of the community, making inroads in the woods, looking for dealers in drugs and arms and ammunition.
“We had to act fast [in Alemão]. We didn’t have as much time to prepare then as we have now. We are ready for this fight,” said operation commander Yerson de Oliveira Neto.
Rocinha residents said the atmosphere was one of “total apprehension”, with people leaving work, stockpiling supplies and heading home as zero hour approached.
Rocinha, perched above wealthy neighborhoods in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone), has been considered crucial to the city’s drug trade, and the alleged kingpin of the R$2 million per week enterprise was arrested just days ago.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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