Police say the operation was aimed at preventing the Red Command’s criminal organization from recruiting teenagers for train hijackings.
At least 25 people, including a police officer, were killed Thursday in a shooting during an operation against drug traffickers in Jacarezinho’s favela in Rio de Janeiro, police said.
The suspects tried to flee through the rooftops as police entered slums with armored vehicles and helicopters flew overhead, television footage shows. The intense shooting kept residents at home.
Three police officers were shot and one died of a head injury at the hospital, police said.
Bullets fired during the battle hit a light wagon and two passengers were injured by broken glass in the broken window, firefighters said.
Jacarezinho is one of the most populated in the city poor neighborhoods, known as favelas, with about 40,000 residents.
It is dominated by the Comando Vermelho, one of the main criminal organizations in Brazil. Police consider Jacarezinho to be one of the group’s headquarters.
Thursday’s operation was aimed at investigating the organization’s teenage recruitment to hijack trains and commit other crimes, police said in a statement.
They said the criminal gang has a “warlike structure of soldiers equipped with rifles, grenades, bulletproof vests, pistols, camouflaged clothing and other military accessories.”
Police said among the dead in Jacarezinho were Red Command leaders.
Candido Mendes University Public Safety Observatory said at least 12 police operations in the state of Rio this year have resulted in three or more deaths.
The director of the observatory, Silvio Ramos, said Thursday’s raid was one of the deadliest in the city’s recent history.
“This is the highest number of deaths in a police operation in Rio, which exceeded 19 in the slums of the Complexo do Alemão in 2007, unless we lost one of our own in this action,” he confirmed to Reuters on chief of police, Ronaldo Oliveira.
Many of the raids appear to violate a Brazilian ruling Supreme Court last year, he ordered police to suspend operations during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is sweeping Brazil, restricting them to “absolutely exceptional” situations.
– Pau Nunes (@pblnns) May 6, 2021
Tweet says: There were 23 deaths. And this is called security policy. [Security] For whom?
The Supreme Court declined to comment when asked by The Associated Press whether Thursday’s operation would be appropriate.
Rio police killed an average of more than five people a day during the first quarter of 2021, the deadliest start in a year since the state government began publishing these data regularly more than two decades ago, according to the Observatory.