Brazilian security forces conducted anti-crime operations in Rio de Janeiro's Complexo do Alemão and Maré favelas on Monday, August 20. Approximately 4200 soldiers were involved in the operation, during which at least five civilians and one soldier were killed. Soldiers seized 430 kg (948 lbs) of drugs in the Maré favela and dismantled gang barricades in both favelas. It was not immediately clear whether any arrests had been made in the operations. Similar operations targeting criminal activity in Rio favelas are likely in the near-term.
Separately on Monday, six suspected gang members were killed in a gunfight after a car chase in Niterói (Rio de Janeiro state). One civilian was reported wounded in the shootout. Assault rifles, handguns, and grenades were seized from the vehicles involved in the chase.
Crime rates in Rio de Janeiro state, rising steadily since 2016, reached all-time highs in 2017, and again in 2018. A total of 6732 homicides were reported statewide in 2017. The violence is largely attributed to fighting between heavily armed security forces and criminal gangs in favelas. Federal forces have been in command of security in the state of Rio de Janeiro since February 2018, and are expected to remain in control until at least the end of the year. According to one study, violent deaths have increased by 80 percent since the beginning of the military intervention.
Due to high crime rates in Rio de Janeiro - and throughout Brazil more generally - individuals should remain vigilant at all times, report any suspicious behavior to relevant authorities, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities. Conceal conspicuous signs of wealth to avoid attracting the attention of would-be thieves. Note that criminals are often armed and never offer resistance in the event of a mugging.
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