20.06.2021

At least 25 dead in police shootout with drug gang in Rio de Janeiro

Police say they were conducting an operation against drug traffickers in the Jacarezinho slum of northern Rio when the raid spiralled into violence. TV news footage showed suspects fleeing along rooftops as police approached in armoured vehicles.

At least 25 people were killed in a shootout between police and a gang in a slum of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

The victims included one police officer, and the remainder were suspected members of the drug gang in what was the deadliest single police operation in 16 years for Rio state.

Two passengers on a nearby subway were also hit by stray bullets, but are expected to survive, O Globo reported.

Police displayed an arsenal of seized weapons at a news conference: six assault rifles, 15 handguns, a machine gun, 14 grenades and a round of artillery ammunition.

Three officers were shot, one of them fatally. The Civil Police announced the death on Facebook.

“With extreme regret, the Civil Police Secretariat reports the passing of police inspector Andre Leonardo de Mello Frias, this Thursday (06/05), during the operation to combat organized crime in the community of Jacarezinho, Norte Rio,” the department said. “He honoured the profession he loved and will be missed.”

The statement also defended the raid as “based on concrete intelligence and investigation information”.

The targeted gang is known for engaging in drug trafficking, mugging, murders and kidnappings. Police said the gang also robbed trucks of cargo and held up commuter trains to steal from passengers. Police say they conducted the raid after learning the traffickers were recruiting children.

“On occasion, criminals reacted strongly,” the Civil Police said. “Not just to run away but to kill.”

Ten people were also arrested in the raid, police said, and some of the gang’s leaders were among the dead.

Police chief Ronaldo Oliveira said it was one of the deadliest raids in the city’s history.

“This is the largest number of deaths in a police operation in Rio, surpassing 19 at Complexo do Alemao slum in 2007, except we did not lose one of ours in that action,” Mr Oliveira told Reuters.

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