Brazil Drug Gang Attacks Police Base

Police launch a counter operation sweeping the favela for drugs and arms. Residents say that they are the ones who get caught in the crossfire.

Residents of mangueira inspect damage to their car, hit by bullets during an attack on a local police base. (Photo: C.H. Gardiner)

Residents of mangueira inspect damage to their car, hit by bullets during an attack on a local police base. (Photo: C.H. Gardiner)

Just north of Rio de Janeiro's famous Maracanã stadium, criminals launched an attack on a police base, opening fire with automatic gunfire and grenades.

The Wednesday morning attack took place in the developing neighborhood of Mangueira. No police were injured, but a high ranking member of the local drug gang was killed in the shooting.

During the attack on the police base, several vehicles belonging to residents were left with bullet holes. Authorities found an unexploded grenade in the house of a woman living nearby.

Following the attack, police launched a large scale operation in the community. Several different police units swept Mangueira searching for drugs and weapons. Shooting between police and gang members was frequent enough that authorities closed Visconde de Niteroi, a major highway that runs in front of Mangueira.

Several criminals tried to escape the cordon surrounding the community including a 17-year-old male that police apprehended in possession of a pistol, ammunition and R$4000 ($1000) in crack cocaine.

Mangueira is located just next to the Maracanã stadium, which played host to the World Cup and the Olympics. The poverty in the community often stood as a sore juxtaposition to the extravagance of the major sporting events.

Residents said that schools and vital services were unable to operate during the operations and that it was locals who ended up suffering when conflict between police and drug gangs occured.