Thousands of troops have taken up the position at airports and ports of Rio and São Paulo as well as along the western border of Brazil as part of the efforts to “asphyxiate” an organised crime amid a significant upsurge in violence and bloodshed.

Drug Smuggling
Representation Image

The military intervention was ordered on Friday by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

It is going to last until May 2024 and is mainly designed for cutting off the drug and gun smuggling channels on which the trafficking and mafia groups rely.

In recent months, the armed factions that have spent decades trying to consolidate control over sweeps of Rio – have spent even more time in the Brazilian headlines than usual, and all credit goes to a series of deadly and dramatic attacks.

Late last month, the paramilitary gangs popular as “milícias” (militias) brought a huge portion of west Rio to a standstill, setting ablaze dozens of buses as well as one train to stop one of the city’s most sought-after mafia bosses being arrested.

Around early October, three doctors were also shot dead outside a five-star beach hotel after the assassins managed to confuse one of the group with a crime boss they wanted to kill.

Separately, there was also a public outcry regarding drone images that were released by police that reflected rifle-toting drug traffickers carrying out guerrilla-oriented training sessions in the Complexo da Maré, a mere sprawl of favelas close to the International Airport of Rio.

This week’s deployment will witness almost 600 Air Force members sent to the airport and Guarulhos International Airport based in São Paulo.

Over 1,000 navy members will be operating in the container ports based in Rio and Itaguaí (Rio state) and Santos (São Paulo), from which Brazi’s prosecutors mention large quantities of South American cocaine get shipped each month to Europe.

About 2000 army troops, in the meantime, will step up activities along the western borders of Brazil with Bolivia and Paraguay, across which much of cocaine, marijuana, and weaponry that unlawfully enters Brazil flows.

Declaring the military operation during the last week, Lula mentioned that the federal government was focused on helping Brazil free itself from gangs, organised crime, drug trafficking, and gun trafficking. The violence that was being experienced has been worsening regularly, Lula informed the reporters.

Rio’s failing security situation came throughout after many years, wherein the murder rate dropped.

Following recent bus burnings, the Estado de São Paulo broadsheet reportedly lamented the “utter failure” of the state to continue upholding its monopoly on violence. He declared that Rio is now on its knees.

Pablo Nunes, a security specialist, said that Rio’s most recent security crisis was triggered by the shooting of a mighty militia leader, Wellington da Silva Braga, popular as Ecko, in 2021.

Braga’s soldiers had controlled vast parts of west Rio, and his death ignited a vicious and violent turf war, with various rival gangs of paramilitary groups and drug traffickers vying for control of communities whose citizens they could wring for extortion payments or where they were able to market drugs. Because of the increase in deaths induced by criminal fragmentation, Rio’s westside would now be Brazil’s seventh-most violent city.

With the exit of Ecko, the territory has been up for grabs … and the fight is playing out in each corner and street, mentioned Nunes and associated with Rio’s Centre for Studies on Public Security and Citizenship.

The scenario in Rio de Janeiro now is totally out of control.

Nunes added that the fed government had a duty to aid the state authorities in tackling Rio’s long-running issue but said that he was not convinced that a military deployment would be successful.

Reference: Guardian

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