Brazilian police confirmed Tuesday afternoon that at least 22 people were killed during a raid in the Vila Cruzeiro favela, in Penha, in northern Rio de Janeiro.
The tactical deployment started at dawn -near 4 am, according to witnesses- and was completed by 4.40 pm, as per Military Police sources. Barricades set on fire to obstruct the passage of Bope's armored vehicles could be seen on local TV.
Most of the dead were suspected drug traffickers, but a 41-year-old woman was reported to be among the bystanders hit by a bullet during the deployment of the Special Operations Battalion (Bope) of the PM.
The streets of Vila Cruzeiro were empty Tuesday morning, with stores closed and a dozen schools suspended their activities.
In addition to the Vila Cruzeiro operation, the Military Police also carried out a similar action in the Morro da Cruz slum, also in the north of the city, where the Red Command, Rio's oldest criminal organization, is active.
Tuesday's was one of the operations with the highest number of victims since May 2021 when 28 people were killed in the favela Jacarezinho, a case that was denounced before the UN and the OAS.
According to the Military Police, 12 of the dead were drug-trafficking suspects, while the other was 41-year-old local resident Gabrielle Fereira da Cunha, who was shot at the entrance of Chatuba, next to Vila Cruzeiro.
Preliminary reports included no details as to the identity of the other casualties, while 2 wounded suspects were rushed to the Getulio Vargas for treatment. Among the other people injured was Police Officer Sérgio Silva Rosário, who was wounded in the face by shrapnel while he was doing on-site forensics.
According to the Military Police, Bope operatives and Federal Highway Police officers were attacked by gunfire as they began an emergency operation in the community to arrest capos of the Comando Vermelho hiding in Vila Cruzeiro.
Another joint operation in Vila Cruzeiro by the Military and Federal Highway Patrol (PRF) in February left at least eight dead.