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In Rio de Janeiro, a police operation targeting criminal gangs in the city’s favela neighborhoods resulted in the death of nine people.

The operation, executed on Wednesday in Brazil’s Complexo da Penha favelas, started following information about a gathering of top-tier gang leaders. As per the police statement, “a clash occurred when police teams came under attack by gunmen at the scene.” The incident, which injured eleven suspects and one police officer, pushed the death toll from such operations in the past week to 42.

Police operations in Brazil’s impoverished neighborhoods continue to spark disputes as pro-law enforcement politicians maintain their necessity in combating crime.

Detractors, however, argue that police often engage in indiscriminate violence in these communities, colluding with paramilitary groups, and partaking in criminal activities themselves.

Eyewitness accounts from residents in the favela neighborhoods targeted by these raids frequently contradict official police narratives. Recounting a July 2022 operation in the Complexo do Alemao favela of Rio de Janeiro, which claimed at least 18 lives, a resident spoke out against the official portrayal of the event, referring to the operation as a “massacre.”

This comes as Brazil recorded 40,824 homicides in 2022 (averaging 111 violent deaths per day). The number represents a 1% decrease from 2021 and the lowest since 2007. Politicians who support the raids credit the decline with Police crackdowns on criminal organizations.


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