14 Nov 2011

Police take control of huge slum in Rio

6:06 am on 14 November 2011

A big police operation has been carried out in Brazil to seize control of Rocinha, the largest favela (shanty town) in the country.

The raid was part of efforts to reclaim slum areas of Rio de Janeiro that have been controlled by criminal gangs for decades.

Hundreds of special forces police and navy commandoes backed by armoured military vehicles and helicopters moved into the slum before dawn. Police said no shots were fired.

Police are trying to clear Rio's shantytowns of drug gangs before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

The BBC reports that since 2008, they have occupied some 20 slumsto drive out the dealers who controlled the areas.

Police had openly announced their plan to move into Rocinha - which is officially home to some 70,000 people, although is widely thought to have considerably more residents.

Some residents left the area on Wednesday, as police began setting up checkpoints at entrances to the district.