The death of Rio's longest running drug kingpin could make the island a target for rival narcotics factions.
Fernando Gomes de Freitas, known as Fernandinho Guarabu, controlled the drug trade on Rio's governor's island for 15 years, an exceptionally long time in a profession with an extremely short life expectancy.
Police shot and killed De Freitas Thursday morning during a targeted operation in Morro do Dende on the governor's island.
The community is located just next to Rio's international airport. A shootout between De Freitas and police in 2007 resulted in one of the airport's runways being shut down for several hours.
Authorities said that they conducted a massive operation surrounding the area where the alleged traffickers were located. When the suspects attempted to flee, they entered into a confrontation with authorities and were killed.
Resident's of the communities controlled by De Freitas said that in the wake of the trafficker's death they feared that the island would be fought over by rivals.
"Guarabu kept the peace for years, without him we would have outsiders coming in to exploit us," said a local woman who asked not to be named for security reasons.
Traffickers from other narcotics factions took to Twitter to celebrate the death of De Freitas.
An Investigation conducted by the Secretary of Intelligence for Rio's Civil Police shows that the island generated millions in illicit funds for De Freitas' gang. Three years ago De Freitas created a partnership with a local militia to charge taxes on vans and minibuses on the island. He would also charge merchants selling gas canisters and suppliers of bootleg tv and cable in the region.
De Freitas controlled the island entirely. Following worries that the area would be invaded he ordered that motorcycle helmets were not to be worn in the region. De Freitas was also deeply evangelical and expelled practitioners of other religions from the community.
Five other individuals killed Along with Guarabu allegedly made up the other leaders of his organization. This has created a massive power void which residents say must be filled. With the absence of the state, criminal organizations are expected to step in.
In conjunction with the operation conducted targeting De Freitas, police also raided the lockers of several members of the island's police. Authorities said that they were investigating the possibility that members of the police were involved with criminal elements on the island.
Authorities said that despite the death of De Freitas they did not expect it to be the end of drug trafficking on the island.