Brazil Arrests Drug Kingpin Of Rio’s Largest Slum

By Dialogo
November 10, 2011

Police have arrested the alleged drug kingpin of Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum ahead of a major crackdown, as Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

The police said late Wednesday, November 9 that they had arrested Antonio Bonfim Lopes — also known as “Nem” and “considered one of the most wanted criminals in Rio de Janeiro” — as the alleged drug trafficker tried to flee the area in a car.

Federal police earlier announced that two alleged drug traffickers were nabbed — “Peixe” and “Coelho,” the latter being Lopes’s right-hand man.

At dawn Wednesday, dozens of Special Forces set up a checkpoint along the main road leading into the Rocinha “favela,” or slum, which has been a bastion of drug gangs for decades.

Police said Rocinha will become the 19th favela to be ridden of traffickers who have been in control for the past 30 years, and local media have ventured that a broader pacification operation will be launched over the weekend.

The neighboring Vidigal shantytown is also expected to be pacified soon.

Since 2008, authorities in Rio, which has one of the highest murder rates in the country, have been in a race to restore security in the city before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, to be held in Brazil.

Local press reports and some residents said police were expected to make their move Sunday.

But a security spokesman said: “We do not disclose ahead of time when police pacification units move” into the favelas.

He said police actions over the past two days were “routine operations.”

Their aim, according to the daily O Dia, was to “snuff out drug trafficking” before an assault by security forces backed by commandos.

A year ago, some 2,600 troops and police backed by armor and helicopters occupied the Complexo do Alemao in a massive operation after a wave of attacks by drug traffickers on police stations and vehicles that left 37 people dead.

More than 1.5 million people live in Rio’s slums — about a third of the local population.