The military police, who frequently carry out this kind of morning operations in the favelas of Rio against drug traffickers, mentioned the death of “10 suspected criminals” and a resident victim of a stray bullet.

The police say they were greeted by gunfire as they began an operation to “locate and capture criminals”.

Among the suspects sought are “gang leaders hidden in the favela”, some of them “from other regions of Brazil”, especially from the northeast.

In May 2021, a police operation in the Jacarezinho favela, about 10 km from Vila Cruzeiro, left 28 dead, including a policeman, the heaviest toll in the city’s history.

Vila Cruzeiro, a hillside favela not far from Rio’s international airport, had already been the scene of another violent clash in February, when eight people were killed by security forces.

The operation, which began around 4:00 a.m. (7:00 GMT) on Tuesday, particularly targeted the “Comando Vermelho” (red commando), one of Brazil’s main criminal factions “responsible for more than 80% of the shootings in Rio”. a police spokesman told TV Globo.

Authorities reported shootings in the upper part of Vila Cruzeiro, “including in the forest” which covers part of the hill.

Seven assault rifles, five pistols, ten motorcycles and six cars were seized during the operation.

According to municipal services, 19 schools remained closed due to the shootings.

– No cameras on uniforms –

“Another massacre. Schools closed, thousands of people terrorized. It is the failure of all plans to reduce (police violence), the policy of extermination is taking its course in Rio”, tweeted the city councilor from left Tarcisio Motta.

During these muscular operations of the military police of Rio, residents and activists of associations often denounce blunders or extrajudicial executions of suspects, abuses most of the time unpunished.

Ten of the thirteen investigations opened after the Jacarezinho massacre have been closed and only four police officers who took part in the raid have been prosecuted.

The Brazilian police are one of those who kill the most in the world, with more than 6,100 deaths in 2021, or 17 per day on average, according to the count of the violence monitor of the G1 site in partnership with the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and the NGO Public Security Forum.

Police officers in Rio were supposed to wear body cameras on their uniforms starting this May, but the use of this equipment has been postponed.

According to the daily Folha de S. Paulo, this postponement is due to a delay in delivery and the cameras should not be available until June.

In the neighboring state of Sao Paulo, the number of violent episodes involving police officers has dropped by 87% since the use of cameras, which has become widespread since 2021.

Security experts believe that the cameras can prevent blunders, but are not a panacea, and their use should be accompanied by a deep reform of the police.

They recommend in particular the abandonment of the logic of permanent confrontation in the fight against drug trafficking, to carry out more thorough investigations to attack the financial resources of the criminal factions.