One teenager was killed and four people were wounded early Monday in a shootout between cops and drug traffickers in a Rio de Janeiro shantytown near the Sambadrome, where thousands of people were watching the samba school parades of Carnival, police said.
The battle broke out in the poor Sao Carlos “favela,” or shantytown, located some 2 kilometers (1 1/4 miles) from the Rio de Janeiro Sambadrome, during a police operation targeting kingpins of a drug ring, according to police officials.
The gunfire scattered some 500 Sao Carlos residents who were parading in a “bloco,” the name for a neighborhood Carnival group that invites everyone along the way to join the party and have fun.
The police operation in a street near the bloco’s parade enraged shantytown inhabitants, who launched a violent protest during which they set a police car on fire and threw at the cops whatever they could lay their hands on.
Among the wounded are Marcilio de Oliveira, 24, alias “Cheru,” and Paulo Roberto Barros dos Santos, also 24 and known as “Dorei.” The two are accused by police of running a drug-trafficking ring out of the Sao Carlos favela.
The operation took place after police received a complaint that Cheru, a man they had been hunting for several months, was taking advantage of Carnival to meet with a friend at a neighborhood bar.
Some 10 cops went to the bar to check the report and found the suspected drug lord.
The agents were met with a hail of bullets from the gunmen, and in the shooting a 14-year-old boy was shot in the chest and died. Police accuse the teen of having ties to the drug ring, something the victim’s family denies.
The protest by Sao Carlos inhabitants, who accused police of shooting at people parading in the bloco, was dispersed with tear gas.
The shootout came a week after 11 people were arrested in the same shantytown on charges of belonging to and supporting Cheru’s drug-trafficking ring.
Among those arrested in the operation was the captain of the Police Pacification Unit, or UPP, that the regional government established in Sao Carlos a year ago to recover a neighborhood that was completely controlled by gunmen.
At the same time the shooting occurred, 72,500 spectators at the Sambadrome were enjoying the first day of parades by samba schools in the Special Group, considered the best in the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.