By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Under heavy rains, more than 5,000 Armed Forces and police officers are conducting operations in six communities in the area of Jacarepaguá, in the western region of Rio de Janeiro city, on Thursday, according to information from Brazilian Military Command of the East (CML).
“This operation is going to take more time, due to not only the number of communities, but the area covered, the number of people being benefited,” explained Colonel Carlos Cinelli, the intervention office’s spokesman.
According to the CML the operation in the western region is one of the largest in the city since the federal government announced military intervention in Rio at the beginning of the year. The objective of the operation, say officials, is to halt drug trafficking in those regions and search for illegal weapons.
Barricades put up at the entrance of these communities to prevent army trucks from entering are also being taken down, according to officials.
Armored vehicles, aircraft and engineering equipment were used to support the operations. More than 200,000 people live in the six favela communities targeted by the military. The Grajau-Jacarepagua highway, one of the main thruways in the region was closed off completely to prevent criminals from escaping.
By the middle of the morning ten people had been arrested and one had died during a confrontation with soldiers, according to a CML spokesperson.
Since the end of February, when the military intervention was announced by President Michel Temer, there have been three large-scale operations in favela communities around Rio.
In March the federal government announced plans to disburse more than R$1.2 billion in funds to finance the troops coming into Rio de Janeiro and military activities related to the intervention, but according to daily O Dia, the money has yet to reach the intervention team due to bureaucracy.