At least 25 killed in police drug raid in Rio slum: media

A massive police operation against drug traffickers in a Rio de Janeiro favela Thursday left at least 24 suspects and a policeman dead, Brazilian media reports said.

The early-morning raid turned the impoverished neighborhood of Jacarezinho, on Rio’s north side, into a battlefield, with residents posting videos on social media of explosions, heavy gunfire and helicopters hovering overhead.

Large groups of police could be seen streaming into the favela as frightened residents tentatively went about their business once the gunfire died down, AFP correspondents said.

At least two people were wounded when the subway car they were riding in was apparently caught in the crossfire during the operation, news site G1 reported, citing the police.

The sting targeted drug traffickers accused of recruiting minors, police said in a statement.

The neighborhood is considered a base for the Comando Vermelho, or Red Command, the Brazilian beach city’s biggest drug gang.

Rights group Instituto Fogo Cruzado (the Crossfire Institute) said it was the deadliest police operation in Rio since it began monitoring five years ago.

The operation came despite a Supreme Court ruling barring police from carrying out raids in Brazil’s impoverished favelas during the coronavirus pandemic except in “absolutely exceptional circumstances.”