RIO DE JANEIRO — A police operation focusing on drug sellers in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday morning left not less than 25 folks lifeless, together with a police officer, in an operation that officers and human rights activists referred to as the deadliest within the metropolis’s historical past.
The gun battle in Jacarezinho, a poor and working-class district managed by the drug gang referred to as Comando Vermelho, or Purple Command, additionally wounded not less than two subway passengers who had been struck as their practice was caught within the crossfire.
Residents and human rights activists accused the police of utilizing extreme pressure and questioned why the operation was launched in any respect, given a Supreme Court docket ban on legislation enforcement raids within the metropolis throughout the pandemic.
Nadine Borges, vp of the human rights fee at Brazil’s bar affiliation, stated a staff of legal professionals gathering information had heard chilling preliminary accounts.
“There have been executions of people that had already surrendered,” she stated. “It was absolute barbarism.”
Jurema Werneck, the manager director of Amnesty Worldwide Brazil, described the police operation because the deadliest to have occurred in Rio de Janeiro. “That is unprecedented,” she stated.
Police commanders stated the shootout started at 6 a.m. when officers who had arrived to serve arrest warrants had been fired upon. One officer, André Leonardo de Mello Frias, was fatally shot within the head, they stated.
“There have been no executions, however relatively a response to an assault,” stated Roberto Cardoso, a police commander.
One other commander, Felipe Curi, stated the warrants had been the results of a 10-month investigation into drug gangs’ recruitment of minors. He referred to as the police division a “guarantor of rights” working to free folks from “the dictatorship of trafficking.”
Police operations in Rio de Janeiro are among the many most deadly on the earth: In 2019, not less than 1,810 folks had been killed by the police in Rio de Janeiro state, a report excessive. Officers are seldom topic to legal investigation or prosecution.
Gun battles between the police and gang members in Rio de Janeiro are routine. Closely armed traffickers act because the de facto authority in huge areas of the town, together with Jacarezinho, the place medicine are bought in plain sight.
Elected officers who’ve been essential of the police denounced Thursday’s raid.
“The slaughter in Jacarezinho is a typical instance of the barbarities that occur in favelas in Rio,” Talíria Petrone, a federal lawmaker from Rio de Janeiro, stated in a press release. “It’s the state doing the minimal to ensure rights and doing the utmost to repress and kill.”
A Supreme Court docket justice final June banned routine police operations in Rio de Janeiro throughout the pandemic. The justice, Edson Fachin, stated the police may perform solely these operations thought of “completely distinctive.”
Joel Luiz Costa, a lawyer from Jacarezinho, stated he visited a number of houses during which folks had been killed on Thursday and noticed proof that residents had been executed.
“That is merciless. That is barbaric,” he stated in a video posted on Twitter. “Did it finish drug trafficking as a result of 25 folks had been killed? Will this finish drug trafficking?”
The operation in Jacarezinho was undertaken lower than every week after the brand new governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Cláudio Castro, took workplace. Governor Castro, whose predecessor, Wilson Witzel, was impeached on corruption fees, stated combating crime was amongst his highest priorities.
“I’m dedicated to decreasing the charges of violence,” he stated throughout his swearing in ceremony on Saturday.
Rodrigo Oliveira, a deputy police chief, stated his officers had performed themselves lawfully.
“The one execution that befell was that of the police officer,” he stated. “The opposite deaths that occurred had been these of traffickers who attacked the police and had been neutralized.”