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2010 Rio de Janeiro security crisis

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In November 2010, there was a major security crisis in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro and some of its neighboring cities. The city's criminal drug trafficking factions initiated a series of attacks in response to the government placing permanent police forces[4] into Rio's slums.

2010 Rio de Janeiro Security Crisis
Exército dá apoio a ocupação no Complexo do Alemão.jpg
Brazilian soldiers holding FN FALs in a favela.
DateNovember 21–28, 2010
Result Occupation of Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo do Alemão by the government forces, security restored in the city.


Forcas armadas.jpg Brazilian Armed Forces

Ministry of Justice

Bandeira do estado do Rio de Janeiro.svg Rio de Janeiro


Commanders and leaders
Brazil Luis Inácio Lula da Silva
Brazil Nelson Jobim
Bandeira do estado do Rio de Janeiro.svg Sérgio Cabral Filho
Bandeira do estado do Rio de Janeiro.svg José Mariano Beltrame
Brazil General Sardenberg
Bandeira do estado do Rio de Janeiro.svg Colonel Duarte
Luciano Martiniano da Silva (Pezão) and Fabiano Atanásio da Silva (FB)

21,000 men of Military Police and Civil Police[1]

  • BOPE
  • CORE
  • 12 Police armored vehicles (caveirões)

500 soldiers Brazilian Marines[2]
6 M-113
6 Mowag Piranha III
5 AAV7A1
800 Paratroopers from Brazilian Army [3]

2 EE-9 Cascavel
6 EE-11 Urutu
9 Helicopters
400-600 men in Complexo do Alemão and Vila Cruzeiro
thousands of Comando Vermelho men in other favelas
Casualties and losses
3 military policemen and 1 paratrooper soldier wounded 200 arrested
39 killed in clash with security forces
2 civilians killed during the violence

In response to the attacks, the local police forces with the aid of the Brazilian Army and Marine Corps initiated a large scale offensive against two of the largest drug trafficking headquarters in the city, located in the Vila Cruzeiro and the neighboring Complexo do Alemão. The operation is considered a success by the government and local media and a large quantity of illegal drugs, weapons and money were confiscated.



Violent acts by drug dealers consisted of incinerating cars, buses and trucks on the streets (over 181 motor vehicles were incinerated[5]), and armed conflicts between the police and the drug dealers at different places of those cities. Being an elevated emergency situation, the local police, along with the BOPE, the Brazilian Army, and the Brazilian Marine Corps[6] had been summoned in order to restore the peace in the city and counter-attack the drug traffickers by taking control of their headquarters in the favelas,[7] located at the group of slums named Complexo do Alemão, which was finally taken by the police around 10:00 am of November, 28.[8][9]

By the end of the favela violence, over 40 people (almost all of them criminals) had been killed in the conflict[10] and over 200 people arrested. Though the attacks ended, the police and military forces still occupy the Complexo do Alemão, the largest favela in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Timeline of the crisisEdit

November 21
In the afternoon, six heavily armed individuals incinerated two cars at Linha Vermelha, one of Rio's most important highways. Since then similar attacks started occurring throughout the city and another group of criminals opened fire against a Brazilian Air Force Vehicle.
November 22
A police captain was shot at Dom Helder Camara Avenue. In addition to the attacks on cars, mass robberies happen in some streets. The government implies that "a small criminal faction" is responsible for the attacks and patrolling is increased. Three people were killed.
November 23
A large scale operation from Rio's Military police invaded several slums of the city in search of those responsible for the series of attacks. Some sources indicate that the order for the attacks came from drug lords imprisoned in the Catanduvas Federal Maximum Security Prison. Three people died and five were arrested.
November 24
The attacks on civilian and police targets intensify. The government declares an order calling all able members of the police force to reinforce patrols including those on license and performing administrative duties. Eight criminals imprisoned in the city responsible for taking part in the crisis are transferred to the Catanduvas Prison. Fifteen suspects were killed and at least thirty were arrested. The local government asked for the Brazilian Marine Corps' support to launch a counter offensive on the criminals.
November 25
The Rio's Special Task Forces (BOPE) invades one of the city's most dangerous areas at the Vila Cruzeiro with the aid of several Marine Corps' armored vehicles. Dozens of criminals desperately fled to their nearby headquarters at the Complexo do Alemão. Details of the operation, including the criminals' run, are broadcast by the local TV stations to the whole world.
November 26
The Brazilian government sent hundreds of soldiers from the Army and members of the Federal Police Force to further increase security in the city and put the Complexo do Alemão under siege. So far more than 100 vehicles were destroyed and around 40 people killed since the start of the crisis. The President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva declares that the Federal Government fully supports Rio's government to end the situation as soon as possible. Spouses and lawyers of some of the imprisoned leaders of the criminal factions are arrested on suspicion of relaying their orders to start the attacks to their cohorts out of prison.
November 27
The Joint task force composed of members of the local police, Army and Marine Corps gives an ultimatum to the criminals at the Complexo do Alemão to surrender while residents evacuate the premises in spite of the impending invasion. The wave of attacks on civilian targets start to fade.
November 28
The Complexo do Alemão is taken over by the police with little resistance, but only a few criminals supposed to be hiding in the place are arrested. Further investigations point that the majority managed to escape through rough terrains around the Complex or through a network of illegal water canals built under the favelas.


Just after the occupation of the Complexo do Alemão and Vila Cruzeiro by the Army, the attacks on vehicles stopped and crisis came to an end. The police managed to apprehend around 40 tonnes of marijuana and 250 kilos of cocaine along with many other illicit drugs, dozens of weapons including pistols, assault rifles, explosives, machine guns, hundreds of stolen motorcycles and more than 30 stolen cars. The drugs were destroyed while the police were charged with the task of returning the stolen vehicles to their rightful owners. The losses suffered by the criminals are stated to surpass 200 million reais (around 120 million US dollars), not including the confiscated houses belonged to the faction's main leaders, fully equipped with many luxury items including multiple pools, jacuzzis and high level electronic hardware.

Through a deal between the State government and the Federal government, the troops will remain stationed in the occupied area until a permanent police force is installed to maintain security. Despite the fact that most of the criminals managed to escape, the operation is considered by the local media as a major victory against crime in Rio de Janeiro and a turning point in the war against drug trafficking in Brazil.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Mais de 21 mil policiais militares estão trabalhando na Região Metropolitana do Rio" (in Portuguese). November 26, 2010. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  2. ^ "Fuzileiros navais põem 300 homens à disposição para pronto-emprego" (in Portuguese). Último Segundo. November 25, 2010. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  3. ^ "Governo do Rio e Ministério da Defesa definem estratégia de combate ao tráfico" (in Portuguese). Tribuna do Norte. November 26, 2010. Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  4. ^ "Rio de Janeiro vive guerra contra o tráfico; ataques a veículos continuam". November 25, 2010. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  5. ^ "Ataques contra veículos cessaram desde a noite de domingo" (in Portuguese). December 2, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  6. ^ "Beltrame agradece Marinha e diz que operações no Rio vão continuar" (in Portuguese). Estadã November 25, 2010. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  7. ^ "Brazilian Forces Claim Victory in Gang Haven". New York Times. November 28, 2010. Retrieved November 29, 2010.
  8. ^ "Polícia invade Complexo do Alemão" (in Portuguese). November 28, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  9. ^ "Las fuerzas brasileñas toman el control de la favela de Río sin apenas resistencia" (in Spanish). El País. November 28, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  10. ^ "Violência entre polícia e traficantes no Rio de Janeiro já fez 39 mortos" (in Portuguese). November 26, 2010. Retrieved November 27, 2010.

External linksEdit