About 1,200 Brazilian police supported by armored vehicles provided by the navy on Sunday peacefully occupied the Mare Complex, a group of 15 “favelas,” or shantytowns, considered to be the most dangerous in Rio de Janeiro,
The operation, which had been previously announced and proceeded without gunfire or any other violence, began at 5 a.m. (0800 GMT) when 21 navy armored cars led the police into the shantytowns, where some 120,000 people live.
The occupation was undertaken gradually and took a little over an hour, although police are scheduled to conduct extensive sweeps in the area over the next few days for drugs and weapons.
Over the past eight days, police arrested 57 people in operations in operations in other favelas, although during the move on Sunday morning they encountered no resistance from any of the armed gangs that had been controlling the poor and destitute neighborhoods.
The Rio authorities had asked for the Brazilian government’s help in occupying the favelas after a wave of attacks on police in recent weeks supposedly ordered by the heads of drug trafficking gangs that had entrenched themselves in the Mare Complex.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff last Friday signed a decree giving police powers to the army, which will be sent into Rio in the coming days to collaborate in controlling Mare.
The decree sets forth that the army will remain in Mare until July 31, two months after the World Cup final, but it leaves open the possibility of extending the operation for a longer period.