Rio Cops Try to Reclaim Gang-Ruled Slums

City begins long cleanup ahead of 2016 Olympics
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2010 3:34 PM CST
Police officers ride on a vehicle after a police operation at the Vila Cruzeiro slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
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(Newser) – Now that Brazil has won its bid for the 2016 Olympics, the housecleaning has begun. Police mounted intense raids on shantytowns that have been co-opted as operating bases by gangs. Ten suspected criminals were killed in gunfights with police, the AP reports. The overall plan is to push the gangs out of 40 shantytowns—RIo has more than 1,000 distinct slums—by 2014, when the city is to host the World Cup.

The gangsters aren't going easily. A note attached to a burning car issued a threat: if the government continues to provoke, the gangs will unleash so much violence that the city will have no hope of hosting the Olympics. Says Rio's public safety chief: "This is not an easy task, but it is also an opportunity to build a better city. We are not giving back one millimeter."

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