On Tuesday, February 20, military forces and other security personnel launched a major security operation in various parts of Rio de Janeiro in a bid to crack down on armed gangs and drug-related violence. According to local sources, security forces conducted patrols and erected checkpoints in multiple favelas, detaining at least 11 people and seizing large quantities of weapons and drugs. The operation was launched on the same day that the Brazilian Senate approved a recent presidential decree (announced on February 16) granting the Brazilian Armed Forces special powers and control over law enforcement in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Confrontations between security forces and local gangs are likely in the coming days and weeks. In addition, heightened security measures and consequent transportation disruptions are expected in Rio's favelas and surrounding areas in the coming weeks as Brazilian military and police forces continue to conduct raids as part of a wider security push.
Rio de Janeiro has been suffering from rising violence since 2016. Almost 500 shootings occurred in January 2018 alone in the city. This phenomenon is largely attributed to fighting between heavily armed security forces and criminal gangs in Rio's favelas. Major protests broke out on February 6 after a child was killed by a stray bullet during a police operation.
Individuals in Rio are advised to avoid any areas where security operations are taking place, to avoid all favelas more generally due to chronically high rates of violent crime, and to adhere to any instructions issued by security forces.
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