Brazil sends troops to fight city’s crime

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - LIL­IANA MICHE­LENA

RIO DE JANEIRO — Thou­sands of sol­diers be­gan pa­trolling Rio de Janeiro on Fri­day amid a spike in vi­o­lence in Brazil’s sec­ond-largest city.

The de­ploy­ment of 8,500 sol­diers, plus hun­dreds of po­lice and high­way pa­trol of­fi­cers, is aimed at fight­ing or­ga­nized crime gangs, which con­trol many of the city’s hun­dreds of slums.

De­fense Min­is­ter Raul Jung­mann said pa­trols would soon start par­tic­i­pat­ing in oper­a­tions against drug traf­fick­ers. That is a break from pre­vi­ous du­ties, which were lim­ited to pa­trolling, man­ning check­points and re­cov­er­ing caches of weapons seized dur­ing po­lice raids. The op­er­a­tion is to run un­til the end of 2018.

Some troops be­gan de­ploy­ing in the af­ter­noon, with trucks full of sol­diers seen rolling over bridges and ex­press­ways.

While the main ef­forts were con­cen­trated in the city’s north, where vi­o­lence is most per­va­sive, ar­mored ve­hi­cles were also pa­trolling the quiet sur­round­ings of the San­tos Du­mont air­port.

Three peo­ple on av­er­age were killed each day by stray bul­lets in the first six months of the year in Rio de Janeiro. That mount­ing num­ber, crim­i­nal as­saults, and in­creas­ing shootouts be­tween drug traf­fick­ers and po­lice have led au­thor­i­ties in re­cent weeks to ac­knowl­edge that much of the city is out of their con­trol.

Pub­lic se­cu­rity ex­perts say Brazil’s worst re­ces­sion in decades is ex­ac­er­bat­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

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