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29 Jul, 2017 10:36

Rio de Janeiro deploys 10,000 troops to tackle crime surge

Rio de Janeiro deploys 10,000 troops to tackle crime surge

Authorities in Brazil are deploying 10,000 troops to Rio de Janeiro in response to a rising surge in organized crime and murders since the city hosted last year’s Olympics.

Over 90 police officers have been killed in 2017 so far, and in the first six months of the year, an average of three people were killed by stray bullets each day.

Around 8,500 soldiers and police were sent to the capital in trucks on Friday. President Michel Temer signed a decree to allow the troops to be in Rio until the end of next year.

Brazilian Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said the troops are there to carry out intelligence operations and to tackle criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking, theft, and other crimes.

Jungman referred to the situation as “war” and said, “I promise a very hard job here, but do not expect miraculous and immediate results,” O Globo reports.

“We will have troops on the street for a certain period and, later, their participation in more extensive areas,” he said.

The minister said communities won’t be occupied, but that specific operations would be conducted when necessary. He also pointed to prisons as a target, and wants to change family members acting as “mail pigeons” for inmates.

“What we need is to disrupt the command of the crime. What can not be to have a head of an organization for 15 years in the penitentiary of Mossoró and to continue in the control of the faction,” he said. “We have to cut off this communication and society has to face it.”

Last week, relatives of police officers gathered at Copacabana to protest the latest death of an officer killed in the Vidigal favela, and to demand more support.

Brazilian police have also been accused of using “unnecessary and excessive force,” Amnesty International said.

Favela residents also gathered at Copacabana beach at the start of July to call for an end to shootouts between drug dealers and police, after a mother and daughter were killed, Journal Dia Dia reported.

Stray bullets are such an issue in Rio that two apps have recently been created to help locals avoid areas where gun battles are taking place in real time, Reuters reported.