Huge Police Sweep in Rio Aims at Drug Traffickers

East Troops Making Progress Against Insurgents

Por Dialogo
abril 22, 2011

Brazilian police swept through Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum in a crackdown on drug-related crime, arresting 11 people and seizing an estimated three tons of marijuana, officials said.

With a helicopter hovering overhead, 200 members of the country’s Civil Police force swarmed into the slum, known as Rocinha.

But the police apparently failed to find their main target, Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, 34, alias “Nem.” Since October, 2010, authorities have offered a reward of around $2,800 for information leading to Nem’s arrest.

The raid was part of series of efforts which began in 2008 intended to clamp down on the deadly violence in Rio’s slums, known as favelas, ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, both of which will be held in Brazil.

Around a third of Rio de Janerio’s population of six million live in slums in and around the city. So far, police operations have been organized in more than 20 favelas, with drug organizations expelled.

Late last year, officials declared victory after 2,600 paratroopers, marines and elite police, backed up with helicopters and armored personnel carriers, led a pre-dawn assault on the Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemao favelas that ended with 37 suspected wrongdoers killed, a score of arrests and the seizure of more than 500 weapons.

Police said that no shots had been fired when they entered Rocinha, a favela of 120,000 people in the south of Rio. They carried 30 warrants, most aimed at money laundering charges by members of the Nem family.