RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Brazilian army and the Rio de Janeiro police launched a vast anti-narcotics operation in the west of the city on Friday, Army spokesperson Colonel Roberto Itamar announced.
The operation took place in the favelas (shantytowns) of Vila Alianca, Coreia and Vila Kennedy, where an army sergeant and a military police commander were killed this week.
3,200 elements from the police and army participated in the mobilization in the early hours of the morning, blocking off all access points to the favelas, backed up by armored vehicles and helicopters.
Itamar said that this operation had been planned before the federal intervention signed by President Michel Temer on Feb. 16 to take over public security in the city.
Vila Kennedy is one of the first social housing projects in Latin America. It is one of the neighborhood in Rio with the highest number of shootouts, having seen at least 13 clashes between police and drug traffickers in January.
Armed forces have carried out at least three large-scale military operations in Rio since last week.
General Walter Braga Neto was named by Temer to oversee all police and army forces in the city. The intent is to reduce the crime wave in Rio, which saw over 5,000 shootouts and close to 7,000 murders last year.