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May 29, 2017

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Brazilian police take over dangerous Rio favela

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian marines and paramilitary police stormed one of Rio's most notorious shantytowns Sunday, as the city cleans up ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

It took just 20 minutes for the security forces to take over the Manguinhos slum in the predawn raid involving 1,300 police assisted by helicopters hovering overhead, and armored personnel carriers carrying 170 marines that plowed through road obstacles set up in the narrow streets.

No shots were fired, but three people were arrested. Police said that five alleged drug crime bosses that had fled to a nearby favela were killed on Saturday.

Authorities said they had seize 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of cocaine in the raid.

Police also increased their presence in Jacarezinho, a nearby favela and a major crack cocaine consumption center. Some 1,300 heavily armed police participated in the operations, officials said.

The two favelas, home to some 70,000 people, are located 10 kilometers (6 miles) from downtown Rio and are strongholds of the powerful Comando Vermelho drug gang.

Rio de Janeiro's security secretary, Jose Mariano Beltrame, hailed what he called a "major victor for society, for the people, for public service."

Around midday, the police raised the Brazilian flag in the Manguinhos town square and sang the national anthem, symbolically freeing the shantytown from the crime bosses.

What follows now is "a meticulous search for drugs, weapons and the arrest of criminals," said Rio military police spokesman Federico Caldas.

Paramilitary police will keep the peace until a unit with agents especially trained to handle favela affairs arrives in December, Caldas said.

Hundreds of police officers blocked entrances to Jacarezinho, but did not occupy the site.

"The military police needs more time to occupy this area," deputy civil police chief Fernando Veloso told TV Globo News, vowing a "constant presence" there.

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