By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After intense shootings during the past weekend between two reported rival drug gangs in the Morro do Juramento favela in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone), the military police are occupying the community and searching for suspects.
The shooting began on Friday night and terrorized residents of the Morro do Juramento for the entire weekend. The police believe that criminals surrounding notorious drug trafficker Celso Pinheiro Pimenta, called ‘Playboy’, invaded the community in order to force out a rival drug trafficking gang.
Morro do Juramento is believed to be under control of the Comando Vermelho (Red Command) gang, while Pimenta is reported to be in alliance with the Amigos dos Amigos (Friends of Friends) trafficking ring. Pimenta is considered Rio’s most wanted drug trafficker and R$50,000 are rewarded for hints that lead to his arrest.
On Sunday, when the gunfire became more intense in Morro do Juramento, nearby metro station Tomás Coelho had to be closed for three hours out of safety reasons. “It is extremely intense. We can’t go out of the house. In plain daylight,” a resident told O Dia newspaper.
The Special Battalion of Rio’s Military Police, the BOPE, decided to intervene on Saturday, January 17th and occupy Morro do Juramento, a favela community yet to receive a Pacifying Police Force (UPP). Their searches in the community continued on Monday, January 19th, but no arrests had been reported.