Crime & Justice

2 Killed in drug-war clashes in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 27 (efe-epa).- Two people were killed and six others wounded in clashes among rival drug gangs and police here in Brazil’s second-largest city, authorities said Thursday.

Police said that the trouble began Wednesday night with the attempt by one gang to displace another from drug corners in Complexo do Sao Carlos, a cluster of slums not far from Rio de Janeiro’s famous Sambadrome.

The episode was brought to a close Thursday afternoon, when four suspects who had taken a couple hostage surrendered to police.

Wednesday night’s invasion was repelled by the organization already in control of the drug trade in Sao Carlos and when police arrived to pacify the situation, the invaders fled in disarray, pursued by the cops.

A female motorist caught in the cross-fire between police and gunmen was fatally shot while trying to shield her son from the bullets.

One of the invaders was killed and three others wounded when police caught up to them, but a fifth suspect traveling in the same vehicle managed to get away and force his way into an apartment in the neighboring Rio Comprido neighborhood, where he held two women and a child captive before giving himself up Thursday morning.

Calm appeared to be restored until another round of shooting began shortly after mid-day in Complexo do Sao Carlos, leading to a second hostage situation.

Four gunmen entered a home in the Catumbi neighborhood and took the couple living there prisoner.

Seeing police surround the residence, the suspects requested the presence of the media and once the press were on scene, the four men surrendered.

One of those suspects was identified as Leo Serrote, reputed leader of the gang that tried to seize control of retail drug sales in Complexo do Sao Carlos.

Police seized two pistols and two long guns from the four men.

Turf battles among rival criminal outfits in the Rio “favelas” (shantytowns) are a major driver of violence in the city, but the traditional police tactic in dealing with the gangs – massive raids – frequently resulted in deaths of innocent civilians.

In June, Brazil’s Supreme Court handed down a ruling barring such raids. Since then, the number of people killed by police in Rio has plummeted by around 75 percent. EFE cm/dr

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