RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Police confiscated 40 tons of marijuana and 660 pounds of cocaine during a massive raid in the slums of Complexo do Alemão and Vila Cruzeiro on Nov. 28, officials said.
“The military police alone seized 20 tons. The rest was done by the civil police [unit and other security forces that took part in the raid], a spokesman for Rio de Janeiro state’s Security Secretariat said, according to Agence France-Presse.
One hundred twenty-four were arrested, 148 were detained and 51 died during the operation, which was carried out to suppress an uprising by drug-trafficking gangs, according to a statement released by Brazilian authorities on Nov. 30.
“It is first time in Rio de Janeiro’s history that we have been able to seize this volume of illicit material and weapons in a single police raid,” said Marcos Maia, coordinator of police special forces.
Police have launched a manhunt for hundreds of suspected narcotics traffickers suspected of hiding in the slums.
Police loaded the narcotics into numerous vehicles on the streets of Grota, one of 15 slums that comprise Complexo do Alemão. Law enforcement officials also seized hundreds of motorcycles, 15 vehicles and an array of weapons that included handguns and military-grade rifles.
“We will do whatever it takes so that the good guys defeat those who prefer to live lives of crime,” President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told reporters earlier this week.
Colombian authorities dismantle heroin ring
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Narcotics enforcement agents partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to seize 88.2 pounds of heroin and arrest 12 suspected members of an organization that allegedly trafficked the narcotic into the United States, officials said.
The confiscation and apprehensions occurred during numerous raids in five departments on Nov. 28, according to the National Police’s drug enforcement division. The narcotic had a street value in excess of US$6 million, police said.
The syndicate’s suspected leaders, brothers Romulo and Ferney Andrade Lazo, and Jorge Fabián Ramírez, were apprehended along with three men who have been named in extradition requests filed by the United States, where they are wanted in New York, according to EFE.
The arrests took place in simultaneous operations in the departments Norte de Santander, Risaralda, Cauca, Cundinamarca and Tolima.
The organization allegedly used couriers, as well as shipments of food, to smuggle the drug into the United States, according to EFE.
In a separate operation, police also made the biggest heroin bust of the year on Nov. 28 in the city of Cali, where a suspect was apprehended after 31 kilograms (68.3) of the drug was found in his vehicle during a traffic stop, officials said.
Mexico: Police Chief Hermila García killed
MEOQUI, Mexico – Hermila García, who became the police chief of the town of Meoqui two months ago, has been fatally shot by suspected hitmen working for narcotics traffickers while on her way to work on Nov. 29, officials said.
García, 38, headed the 90-member police force in Meoqui, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Chihuahua city, the state capital of Chihuahua. García was discovered in her car about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the town’s center, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Officials suspect narcotics traffickers played a role in her killing since García’s previous work experience included a stint as an investigator for the Federal Attorney General’s Office, officials said, according to CNN.
García, who was single, had no children, officials said.
She was among several women who had become heads of police precincts in towns nationwide since men had stayed away because high-ranking police officers often are the targets of narcotics traffickers, officials said.
Marisol Valles García, a 20-year-old criminology student, became police chief of the town of Praxedis G. Guerrero, also in the state of Chihuahua, in October. Valles García’s predecessor was fatally shot in July of last year, and the town did not have a chief of police until she was appointed to the position.
Silvia Molina, the top administrative official of the police department in Ciudad Juárez, the state’s largest city, was killed in 2008.
Chihuahua has become the country’s most violent state, with more than 2,700 homicides so far this year and about 8,000 killings since 2008, according to CNN.
Mexico: José Alfredo Landa arrested
MEXICO CITY – José Alfredo Landa Torres, who is the suspected leader of the La Familia cartel’s operations in Morelia, the Michoacán state capital, has been apprehended, officials said.
Landa, known as “El Flaco,” 37, and three other suspects were apprehended after police surrounded a residence outside the city on Nov. 29, said Ramón Pequeño, the chief of the Federal Police’s counter-narcotics division, according to The Associated Press.
Pequeño said Landa was found in possession of more than two dozen property titles and other documents that he allegedly was using to extort homeowners.
Landa recently made news when he said La Familia would disband if the government could improve the town’s overall safety. Landa made his offer to government officials by leaving letters on the streets and emailing his proposition to journalists.
La Familia, which officials have said is the nation’s primary trafficker of methamphetamine, gained nationwide attention four years ago when it tossed severed heads into a nightclub in the city of Uruapan in the state of Michoacán.
President Felipe Calderón responded by deploying thousands of military personnel to the state.
La Familia has engaged in numerous gunfights with law enforcement agents, including an ambush this past June during which the cartel killed 12 Federal Police officers.