RIO DE JANEIRO – Eight suspected drug traffickers were killed on Tuesday during police operations in “favelas,” or shantytowns, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian officials said.
Five of the deaths occurred in shootouts with police in the Morro do Sao Carlos favela near downtown Rio de Janeiro, while the other three happened in Cidade de Deus (City of God), a shantytown made famous by a 2002 movie of the same name that tells the story of Rio’s drug dealers and their turf wars.
The men killed in Morro do Sao Carlos apparently belonged to a drug gang that tried to take over the shantytown in the early morning hours and expel the gang that controlled the area.
The rival gangs engaged in a shootout, forcing police commanders to deploy an elite special response unit to fight the gunmen.
Five suspected gang members were wounded in the shootout and transported to a public hospital in downtown Rio de Janeiro, where they died before doctors could treat them.
Police seized a rifle, ammunition clips, ammunition, three pistols, a revolver, three grenades, radios, marijuana and cocaine following the shootout, officials said.
Last month, the armed forces staged a large anti-drug operation in Morro do Sao Carlos and arrested 20 suspected members of the gang that started a turf war for control of drug sales in Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro.
In Cidade de Deus, a complex of several poor neighborhoods in the western section of Rio, three suspected drug traffickers died in an operation launched by police to serve 61 arrest warrants on residents facing drug, murder and robbery charges.
About 200 police officers backed by armored vehicles entered Cidade de Deus amid gunfire.
The officers were unable to execute 21 arrest warrants issued for minors.
The gunfire forced the closing of 12 schools and three nursery schools in Cidade de Deus, leaving some 7,550 without classes.
The armed forces have staged operations in recent weeks in several favelas around the metro area in an effort to end a wave of violence that started after the 2016 Summer Olympics ended in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s most famous city.
President Michel Temer’s administration responded to the wave of violence by deploying 10,000 military personnel in and around the city to bolster security, with the operation expected to last until late 2018.
The security operation, according to official figures as of Oct. 31, has cost the government nearly 25 million reais (about $7.7 million).
About 4,000 people, including more than 100 police officers, have been murdered this year in Rio de Janeiro state, whose like-named capital is home to the majority of the region’s population, non-governmental organizations said.