Brazil launches major operation against organised crime

Rio de Janeiro, Feb 21: Brazilian soldiers and police launched a new operation on Tuesday against organised crime and drug trafficking, arresting six suspects.

The move comes days after the federal government gave the military responsibility for law enforcement and public safety in Rio de Janeiro state, Efe reported.

"This is the largest operation launched jointly by the Armed Forces and the police since the start of operations in July of last year," Colonel Roberto Itamar, Spokesman for the Eastern Military Command (CML), said.

"In spatial terms, this operation extends from inner Rio up to the borders of the state, with three occupation lines."

Near the Kelson's "favela," or shantytown, lies the navy's largest training facility, where security was reinforced after military personnel received threats.

The state government said the operation had been organised before President Michel Temer signed an executive order last week authorising a federal law enforcement role in Rio through the end of 2018.

The order was approved early Tuesday by the lower house of Congress and is expected to pass the Senate.

The armed forces have been conducting operations in Rio since mid-2017, when the federal government sent a 10,000-strong contingent to bolster security in the state; however, this did not lead to a drop in violence.

The federal intervention is meant to end the wave of drug-related violence that has plagued Rio for the past several months and caused 6,731 violent deaths last year, claiming the lives of more than 100 police officers and a dozen children killed by stray bullets.