A drone being developed by Brazilian engineers

Brazilian police are trying out drones that could be used to track criminal activity in Rio de Janeiro's favelas, following a region-wide trend of using unmanned aircraft to monitor organized crime.

MercoPress reported that the drones, which were manufactured using Israeli technology, could be used to support security forces operations in favelas controlled by drug gangs.

The “VANTS,” the Portuguese acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), would “see what soldiers can’t see,” Montenegro Magalhaes Neto, from the Military’s Engineering Institute, told MercoPress.

InSight Crime Analysis

Brazilian authorities are carrying out an ambitious program to “pacify” Rio’s favelas, in an attempt to reduce crime ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Their use of drones follows a larger trend of using unmanned aircraft to combat the drug trade.

The US began sending unarmed drones into Mexican territory in early 2011. In July, the US government announced it would expand its use of surveillance drones into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, in order to track drug shipments.

US authorities have said that drones in Mexico helped locate suspects in the February 2011 killing of a US immigration and customs agent, according to the New York Times. Drones like the Global Hawk spy plane can fly at 60,000 feet -- beyond visibility -- and can cover 40,000 square miles a day, according to the newspaper.

Brazil has also donated drones to Bolivia to help find illegal coca plantations.