RIO DE JANEIRO: Seven people, including a drug trafficker wanted for his alleged role in a 2016 gang rape that shocked Brazil, were killed Saturday during a large-scale police raid on crime-ridden favelas.
A spokesman for the military-led police in Rio said that “the current toll is 22 people taken into custody and seven killed as a result of clashes with the police force.”These included Sergio Luiz da Silva, a man known more widely by his gang name “Da Russia,” the spokesman said.
He was alleged to be a drug trafficking leader who also took part in a 2016 rape of an underage girl in Rio. As many as 30 men were suspected of joining the rape, which came to light in images spread on social media that showed the victim unconscious and surrounded by her assailants.
Saturday’s violence took place after police raided impoverished, sometimes lawless neighborhoods known as favelas in the west of Rio late Friday. A group of suspects tried to flee to other favelas in the north and were intercepted and killed, local media reported.
Public safety in the city has been steadily deteriorating since the end of the 2016 Rio Olympics, accompanied by failing budgets and corruption scandals.
Citing the police force’s inability to control heavily armed drug gangs, the federal government in February ordered the military to take command of all security in Rio.
The move has seen generals replace civilian authorities in top security jobs, as well as an increase in use of soldiers to back up the police. —AFP