Brazilian forces fan out in Rio to combat rising violence

SAO PAULO (AP) – Hundreds of Brazilian police and military troops swept through a neighborhood in northern Rio de Janeiro on Friday as part of efforts to combat rising violence in the city.

In recent weeks, a series of intense shootouts led Brazilian authorities to ask the military to help patrol the perimeter of Rocinha, Rio’s largest slum. Friday’s operation in the neighborhood of Morro dos Macacos was related to ongoing efforts to combat violence in Rocinha, where rival drug-trafficking gangs are competing for control.

Police and soldiers fanned out in Morro dos Macacos early Friday to serve 31 arrest warrants, the result of a three-month investigation into gangs.

So far, 10 people have been arrested and a large quantity of drugs seized, security official Rodrigo Alves said at a news conference.

Images on Brazilian television showed police and soldiers patrolling the neighborhood, which appeared calm following the morning raids.

Rio has long struggled with crime, but amid a national economic crisis, it is experiencing its worst wave of violence in a decade.

About 8,500 troops were deployed in August to try to curb the violence a year after Rio hosted the Summer Olympics. The troops have mostly been patrolling, not engaging with traffickers, but soldiers moved into Rocinha last month to provide backup for police. They have since pulled back.

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