Brazil police take over Rio de Janeiro slums

Authorities try to clean up city’s drug-riddled favelas in preparation for 2014 Soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Police in Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro have taken control of the crime-infested slums or favelas in a bid to claim back portions of the city controlled by drug gangs, AFP news agency reports.

Police said in a release that the Sunday morning operation in Jacarezinho and Manguinhos favelas took about 20 minutes.

In the Jacarezinho slum, six shots were fired once police arrived, and one suspect was injured while trying to set fire to a barricade meant to keep officers out.

The operation began shortly before 5:00am local time (08:00 GMT) and involved about 800 police in riot gear and 13 armoured personnel carriers.

Heavily armed officers began patrolling the streets as soon as they moved in.

"The situation is calm," police spokesman Colonel Federico Caldas told local Globo News television.

This area will now become part of a state programme that establishes so-called peacekeeping police units [UPP] in shantytowns previously held by drug traffickers. This is the 29th such unit in Rio de Janeiro.

With the addition of Manguinhos, authorities have deployed 29 of the UPPs in more than 170 local communities, which are now patrolled by more than 6,770 special agents, according to military police statistics.

Authorities in Brazil are trying to take control of and clean up some of the most dangerous areas of the country in preparation for the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games of 2016.

Critics say the military style invasions are too heavy-handed, and simply push the drug gangs to other parts of the city.