Brazilian police and military have announced the successful occupation of nine favelas (slums) in Central Rio and surrounding the touristic neighborhood of Santa Teresa.
As part of an ongoing operation to wrest control of the favelas from drug factions and bring order to the communities, tanks and armoured police cars stormed the communities in the early hours of Sunday morning.
With the police announcing their intentions almost a week ahead of the operation, critics have claimed that the drug traffickers will have long since fled to other favelas.
But with the occupation carried out swiftly and without an exchange of gunfire, Rio’s Public Security Secretary Jose Miriano Beltrame has declared the operation a success. He declared that: “The aim is to occupy the territories without adding to the statistics of ‘stray bullets’, homicides and inuries.
He added that possible escape routes are being monitored by satellite and helicopter, and that security forces are on standby to enter other favelas if traffickers are thought to have entered.
With the Brazilian flag now flying high above communities formerly run by drug factions, the aim is to keep the situation peaceful by installing three Police Pacification Units (UPPs), which will monitor some 17 communities occupied by around 250,000 people.
The occupation follows the dramatic and violent invasion of the vast favela complex Complexo do Alemao in November.
The overall aim is to rid the favelas of armed drugs gangs and make them safer for residents, as well as improving the image of the city ahead of the 1014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.