Rio de Janeiro, Oct 9 (EFE).- Nearly 1,000 police officers were deployed Monday in three of Rio de Janeiro’s most violent favelas in a massive operation by authorities aimed at capturing leaders of the Comando Vermelho (Red Command), one of Brazil’s most dangerous criminal organizations, officials said.
The actions are taking place in Complexo da Maré, Vila Cruzeiro, and Cidade de Deus, where agents seek to serve 100 arrest warrants, Rio de Janeiro State Civil Police Secretary José Renato Torres told a press conference.
Residents of the communities reported on social networks that there had been heavy gunfire since early morning, forcing schools and health centers to be closed. At the time of writing, it was not known if any deaths or injuries resulted from the actions.
Authorities said two helicopters were hit by gunfire and had to make emergency landings, but no injuries were reported.
In the Complexo da Maré, a vast and dangerous conglomerate of 16 favelas north of Rio, EFE confirmed the dismantling of a drug production warehouse and explosive devices. According to the authorities, four people were arrested. In Vila Cruzeiro, the criminals set up barricades and burned objects, making it more difficult for uniformed officers to access the community.
The mega-operation is part of a police offensive announced in late September by the Rio government to restore security to the residents of these communities. It is also a response to the murder of three doctors last Thursday at a beach kiosk in the upscale Barra de Tijuca sector.
The Comando Vermelho, a criminal organization, controls the favelas where the operation occurs. According to the police, its members were involved in the deaths of the three doctors last week.
The doctors had traveled from São Paulo to attend an international orthopedic congress and were mistakenly shot in a turf war between drug gangs and paramilitary groups.
The authorities’ central hypothesis is that Perseu Almeida, one of the doctors on the scene, was mistaken for a criminal gang member. EFE