By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Thursday, September 18th, Rio Civil Police apprehended 26 members of an alleged drug gang said to be responsible for vandalism of several buses and the death of six Military Police officers including, the Captain of the Nova Brasília Pacifying Police Unit (UPP), Uanderson Manoel da Silva.
Captain Silva died on September 11th in a Rio hospital after succumbing to wounds incurred during a shootout between police and suspects. The shootout took place in Complexo do Alemão, one of the largest favela communities in the Zona Norte (North Zone) of the city.
The Nova Brasília UPP, of which Silva took command only three months prior to his death, is one of several UPPs located within the Complexo do Alemão.
Through the use of wiretaps and informants, police allegedly discovered that an area drug gang, thought to be responsible for Silva’s death and the deaths of five more officers, was planning future attacks on the area’s UPPs. They also reportedly overheard a plot to take over a supermarket in the area.
Judge Alexandre Abrahão of the 25th Criminal Court of Rio then issued 41 arrest warrants for homicide, drug trafficking and property damage. On Thursday, more than three hundred officers participated in the operation dubbed, Operação Urano (Operation Uranus).
Edson Silva de Sousa, better known as Orelha, was among the twenty-six apprehended. Orelha is allegedly the leader of the drug trafficking organization in the neighborhoods of Nova Brasília and Fazendinha. Reportedly there were also four minors and warrants for six female suspects.
During a press conference on Thursday, Rio de Janeiro State Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame, while happy with the success of Operação Urano, addressed criticisms of the process, by saying; “I want to reiterate that the responses and actions are rational. Civilian and police intelligence often do not have the speed that society wants, but we started the process of pacification and occupation in these exact places without firing a single shot, without starting a war and we will continue this way.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
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