500 policemen seek drug dealers in Rio

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL — This morning about 500 policemen occupied the Morro da Rocinha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. The action is a part of a police operation against drug dealers.

Police say they recovered 11 previously stolen motorcycles, a grenade, a fusil, a walkie-talkie and fireworks (the criminals usually use fireworks to warn fellows about the arrival of police). Three men suspected of drug dealing were arrested: Fernando Pereira Lima (aged 22) Alessandro Martins (aged 27) and a boy (aged 17 - Brazilian laws forbid the release of names of teenagers younger than 18 in reporting legal cases). The teenager allegedly shot the grenade against the policemen, but was himself hurt. He is stable after treatment at the Miguel Couto hospital.

The drug dealers from Morro da Rocinha are in a war against drug dealers from the neighboring Vidigal favela. Local populations of both Morro da Rocinha and Vidigal are endangered by the criminals, and have demanded urgent actions by the authorities.