RIO DE JANEIRO – At least 23 people were arrested on Wednesday during an operation involving different police forces and 3,000 soldiers in various parts of this southeastern Brazilian metropolis.
A pair of minors were among those taken into custody, while three of the detained have not yet been identified, the Rio de Janeiro state Public Safety Secretariat said.
The large-scale, anti-drug operation was unfolding in different parts of Greater Rio de Janeiro, including the Cidade de Deus “favela” (shantytown), which was made famous by the 2002 film “City of God” and has been the scene of intense clashes in recent days.
Some of the soldiers set up a security cordon and cleared roads in Cidade de Deus, while another contingent established roadblocks and checkpoints at entrances to BR-101, a major federal coastal highway that runs through Rio de Janeiro.
The operation was launched at 5 am and involves members of the Federal, Highway, Civil and Military Police, as well as the National Public Security Force, an elite group made up of police from different Brazilian states.
It also targeted the Rocinha favela, which is Rio’s largest and also one of its most dangerous.
Rio de Janeiro state has been mired in a public safety crisis that dates back to the Olympic Games in 2016 and has grown more acute at the start of 2018, as the state capital is gearing up for its world-famous Carnival.
Some 10,000 federal forces were deployed in mid-2017 to bolster security in Rio and are scheduled to remain there until the end of this year.
But their presence has not led to a reduction in violence or deterred criminal activity.