41 held in Brazil anti-militia operation

June 10th, 2009 - 11:21 am ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, June 10 (EFE) At least 41 people, including 19 police officers, have been arrested in Brazil in an operation against bands of paramilitary personnel who are vying with drug traffickers for the control of the “favelas” or the slums in Rio de Janeiro.
The operation, which was still underway, has targeted for the arrest of another 25 people accused of forming a militia band known as the Justice League and operating in Rio. The group has been responsible for 30 killings so far, officials said.

The “militias”, as they are known in Rio de Janeiro, are paramilitary bands made up mainly of policemen, former cops and firefighters formed to illegally combat the encroachment of drug traffickers in Rio’s favelas.

The illegal groups, which have expelled drug trafficking gangs from several slums, also impose their will by force on the residents of the shantytowns and force them to pay for alleged security services and for other things, such as illegal cable television connections, and the like.

The operations against the militias are concentrated in Campo Grande and Acari, large portions of western and northern Rio where the favelas are dominated by the Justice League.

Among the people captured so far are 16 military policemen and three officers with the civil police.

The continuing violence between the paramilitary bands, drug trafficking outfits and the police has made Rio de Janeiro one of Brazil’s most violent cities.

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