Police arrested one person and seized 13 firearms during an operation Sunday to occupy three “favelas,” or shantytowns, in Rio de Janeiro that had been under the control of drug traffickers for decades, Brazilian officials said.
The Rocinha, Vidigal and Chacara do Ceu slums, which are located near some of Rio’s most upscale neighborhoods, were occupied in the early morning hours by more than 1,500 police officers backed by armored vehicles and helicopters, the city government said.
Police took control of the three slums in a two-hour operation “without firing a shot,” the Rio de Janeiro city government said.
The raids on the three shantytowns were led by the Rio de Janeiro state police’s Special Operations Battalion, or Bope.
Igor Tomas da Silva, a fugitive who was apparently under the influence of drugs and seeking assistance, was arrested.
The operation’s success was due to cooperation between the state and federal governments, Rio de Janeiro Gov. Sergio Cabral said.
The federal government’s decision to use army troops to occupy the Complexo do Alemao shantytowns a year ago allowed the Rio de Janeiro state police to develop a plan for taking Rocinha, the city’s largest slum, Cabral said.
“Nothing happens by chance. This (the operation) was planned a long time ago by the Security Secretariat. Nearly four, five months ago, we asked President Dilma (Rousseff) to keep the army in Alemao until June 30, 2012, because that would allow us to enter Rocinha,” Cabral said.
Police took the slums so easily that the marine armored vehicles providing support were able to pull out quickly, allowing normality to return to the areas.
Businesses had reopened by midday in Rocinha and Vidigal, allowing residents to walk the streets as on any regular Sunday.
The state government regularly launches police operations in favelas in an effort to break the grip that many drug gangs have on them, establishing a permanent police presence in the poor areas.
The Rio de Janeiro state government plans to construct permanent police substations in all favelas before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games