Police Raid Targeting Drug Dealers in Rio de Janeiro Leaves 25 People Dead

Police officers during an operation against drug traffickers on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro. (Credit…Andre Coelho/EPA, via Shutterstock)

A police operation targeting drug dealers in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday morning left at least 25 people dead, including a police officer, in an operation that officials and human rights activists called the deadliest in the city’s history.

The gun battle in Jacarezinho, a poor and working-class district controlled by the drug gang known as Comando Vermelho, or Red Command, also wounded at least two subway passengers who were struck as their train was caught in the crossfire.

Residents and human rights activists accused the police of using excessive force and questioned why the operation was launched at all, given a Supreme Court ban on law enforcement raids in the city during the pandemic.

Nadine Borges, vice president of the human rights commission at Brazil’s bar association, said a team of lawyers gathering facts had heard chilling preliminary accounts.

“There were executions of people who had already surrendered,” she said. “It was absolute barbarism.”

Jurema Werneck, the executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, described the police operation as the deadliest to have occurred in Rio de Janeiro. “This is unprecedented,” she said.

Police commanders said the shootout began at 6 a.m. when officers who had arrived to serve arrest warrants were fired upon. One officer, André Leonardo de Mello Frias, was fatally shot in the head, they said.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Flávia Milhorance and Ernesto Londoño

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