HomeNewsAnalysisRio Favela Gets Biggest Police Pacification Unit Yet
ANALYSIS

Rio Favela Gets Biggest Police Pacification Unit Yet

BRAZIL / 21 SEP 2012 BY HANNAH STONE EN

Rio de Janeiro has officially inaugurated an elite pacifying police force (UPP) in Rocinha favela, the site of a power struggle by rival traffickers, just a week after a police officer was shot dead there.

Rocinha’s UPP unit will be the city’s 28th and its biggest, with 700 officers deployed to keep the peace in the neighborhood of 100,000 residents. There are plans to install 100 security cameras around the favela, to support the work of the police, O Globo reported. Most of Rocinha cannot be patrolled in car, and so police will move on foot or by motorbike.

The inauguration ceremony was held in the morning of September 20, with state Governor Sergio Cabral and Security Secretary Jose Mariano Beltrame in attendance. Both made speeches praising the security gains in the neighborhood so far, and warning that peace and security remain a work in progress. “Occupation is the easy part. It is settling that is more complicated,” said Beltrame, as Jornal do Brasil reported.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rocinha has been occupied by the security forces since November, as part of Rio’s scheme to take control of neighborhoods controlled by drug traffickers and militia groups, one by one. Once a neighborhood is judged to be under control, a police unit is installed, specially trained in community policing methods, and meant to establish a permanent state presence.

In November, a force of 3,000 police, military police and navy officers invaded the favela before dawn. The operation had been announced well in advance, and no shots were fired. Since March, it has been patrolled by some 400 officers from the military police, including the BOPE special forces. They have carried out a series of operations in the last few days to “clean” the area in preparation for the inauguration of the UPP.

The UPP officers have been slowly moving into place since April, when a group of the program’s graduates were sent there for a month to train. The current UPP officers have been in the neighborhood for the last two months, though the neighborhood had remained under the control of the special forces.

However, the security situation in Rocinha remains troubled, with 13 murders since the occupation began. Two of these were police shot dead by drug traffickers, one of whom was killed only a week before the inauguration. Indeed, during the ceremony, snipers from the BOPE special forces were positioned on nearby roofs, as Veja reported.

This continued insecurity, worse than in some other “pacified” favelas, has been attributed to struggles to control the neighborhood after the arrest of local boss Antonio Bonfim Lopes, or “Nem,” who was captured while trying to flee Rocinha hidden in the trunk of a car days before the military occupation. This triggered a struggle for control of his old territory, with the Red Comman (Comando Vermelho) gang moving in to the favela, and battling with Nem’s group Amigos dos Amigos.

Meanwhile, two of Nem’s former right-hand-men are reportedly battling to inherit his position; Amaro Pereira da Silva, alias “Neto,” and Inacio de Castro Silva.

Rocinha was also the scene for accusations that occupying military police officers had been taking bribes from traffickers. However, the commander of Rocinha’s UPP Edson Santos told the press that the people were behind the force: “The population supports us. Proof of this is that is was through them that we found out who was behind the crimes committed here in this period.”

Rocinha is a highly important neighborhood for the authorities, sitting close to the Olympics site, and holding it would allow them to close a security ring  around the areas that will host most of the events for that and the World Cup in 2014. However, it is also a strategic neighborhood for drug traffickers, that will take time to bring completely under control.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 22 APR 2013

Bolivian police have seized 5,000 baby caimans and 500 skins ready to be smuggled to Brazil, evidence of the…

BRAZIL / 28 DEC 2011

Rio-based blogger and journalist Julia Michaels parcels out the gems from two recent interviews of Rio State's Public Safety Secretary…

BRAZIL / 30 JUN 2020

An index looking at the ability of Latin American countries to combat corruption has highlighted that signs of progress are…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.