Saturday, October 17, 2009
air war in the favelas
Bandidos in Rio shot down a police helicopter over the Zona Norte favela Morro dos Macacos after police apparently tried to intervene in a battle between two rival drug gangs--Amigos dos Amigos, which controlled the favela, and Comando Vermelho. (The picture here seems to show burnt out buses on the edge of the favela (hint: I don't know of any favelas that have traffic lights.) So far, authorities have said that 12 people have died.
The Guardian has details.
Two interesting facts:
1. "Hundreds of police officers descended on the area following the invasion" by the Comando Vermelho. This is significant because when I was in the favelas (eight years ago, which, I admit, in the fast changing world of the drug traffickers, can be considered ancient history), Amigos dos Amigos was known to be in cahoots with the cops. Indeed, a veteran police officer confirmed this to me. So no one should discount the possibility that the police were taking sides in this fight.
2. The drug gangs have "an increasingly sophisticated arsenal, including anti-aircraft guns and automatic rifles, often sourced from inventory intended for the Bolivian and Argentinian armies and smuggled into Rio." Isn't that a big story? These arms are undoubtedly stolen from official shipments. How can this be happening and isn't there a way for officials--including those in the U.S., which is most likely supplying the weaponry--to prevent it?