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Battle for Rio: Police take Over Major Complex of Slums

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Uploaded on Dec 1, 2010

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Victory flags of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro are fluttering above the Complexo do Alemão ("German Complex"), the major battleground in Brazil's all-out war against Rio's powerful drug gangs.

The Brazilian government launched a major offensive last week, deploying 2,700 troops against the city's three major drug gangs. For the first time they have joined together to fight the state.

The gangs own the slums in many districts of Rio. Their territory has been in a perpetual state of civil war. On the one side stands organized crime, on the other underpaid, corrupt police. And stuck in the middle, are the citizens of the city.

Drug related crimes in Rio are widespread, and with the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 both approaching, the government has decided now is the time to wage the war to gain control of the city.

[Sergio Cabral, Rio de Janeiro State Governor]:
"What is at stake here is a policy of public security which is articulated, and which will give our population the peace and tranquility they've been waiting for."

Responding to increasing pressure from the police, last week drug gangs attacked police stations, burned cars and buses, turning the city into a war zone.

Then the major battle for Rio started.

The federal and state governments executed a meticulously orchestrated security plan to take control of the city, involving every arm of the country's security apparatus including army, navy, air force, elite troops, and police—the largest security operation in Brazilian history.

The operation started surrounding the Complexo do Alemão, comprising 15 slums, home to about 400,000 people. Hundreds of gang members were holding out in the Complex after fleeing from a neighboring slum. They were expelled by police who arrived in armored vehicles.

After an intense battle over the weekend, the complex of slums was finally taken over by the armed forces. But citizens still fear fresh attacks.

[Madalene de Carvalho, Citizen]:
"We feel 70 percent safe now. Of course there are still many things left to be done -- there are a lot of slums. I don't know where these criminals will go to, how they will react. I think there will be another reaction, we are expecting this."

News of last week's wave of violence ricocheted in the world's media like a hail of bullets in the slums of Rio.

NTD News, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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