Crime & Justice

Police raid kills 12 in Brazil slum amid Covid-19 lockdown

Rio de Janeiro, May 16 (efe-epa).- At least 12 people have been killed in a police operation against drug trafficking gangs in a slum area of Rio de Janeiro while residents alleged that officers used excessive force in the area that has been locked down in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The reported police excesses on Friday include firing, deployment of armored vehicles, and the use of powerful weapons such as grenades, which intimidated the people of Complexo do Alemao, a neighborhood of slums known for prevailing violence and lack of government control.

The operation carried out by the militarized police BOPE in the favelas of Fazendinha, Alvorada, Loteamento, and Nova Brasilia, leaving at least 12 dead, five of which – according to authorities – were suspected of having links to drug trafficking gangs.

Neighbors and community leaders of these slums told EFE said that in addition to the dead, several civilians were injured and there are allegations that officers forcibly entered houses and beat up its residents.

A BOPE officer received shrapnel injuries but was not in a serious condition, according to the authorities.

The situation caused confusion and was compared to a war scenario by “Voz da Comunidade”, a news program of Complexo do Alemao, as it described the destruction of a house by a grenade explosion and reported about the condition of the victims.

The favela residents said some law enforcement officers looted markets and that the “Caveirão” (armored vehicles that resemble tankettes) had taken away several cars parked in the streets.

The residents also gave a moment-to-moment account of the situation on social media.

Community leaders expressed grief over the incident that led to crowds and forced people out of their homes, despite confinement measures, due to the chaos and fear caused by such actions.

“Avoid crowding? Total social isolation? It is impossible in this reality,” tweeted Raul Santiago, a community leader in Complexo do Alemao.

When consulted regarding the matter, the police said they took part in the joint operation with BOPE at Alemao to verify the evidence of drugs and arms trafficking in the area.

According to the police, one of the victims led a gang that controlled drug trafficking in Pavao Pavonzinho, a favela surrounding the famous tourist neighborhood of Ipanema. EFE-EPA

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