RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – At least eight people were killed on Friday during a dawn police raid in Rio de Janeiro’s Vila Cruzeiro favela, local police said, adding the operation targeted a major drug dealer.
According to the police, Chico Bento is part of Rio’s largest criminal organization and was reportedly hiding in Vila Cruzeiro having fled there from Jacarezinho, a favela occupied by police earlier this year as authorities vowed a renewed effort to bring security and public services to the city’s violent slums.
The eight people killed were members of the narcotrafficking gang, according to police. They added that members of a gang focused on cargo theft were also targeted in Friday’s raid. The police said they seized a large number of rifles, grenades and drugs.
Shots fired during the operation left Vila Cruzeiro’s residents unable to leave their homes. Nearby healthcare facilities and schools were shut down during the shootout.
The deaths will add to criticism from human rights groups who accuse Rio’s police of using excessive force and killing too often. The vast majority of police victims are young Black men.
The operation comes a week after Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that Rio de Janeiro’s state government must come up with a plan in no more than 90 days to reduce the death toll related to police raids in the state, especially in poor areas.
Earlier this month, six people died during an operation in the Baixada Fluminense area, while in 2021 a record 29 people were killed during a raid in the Jacarezinho neighborhood.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Andrea Ricci)