Murder of 6 Teenagers Prompts Police to Occupy Rio Suburb

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The brutal killing of six teenagers in a favela north of Rio de Janeiro has caused a surge of police  in the area, and raised concerns that the city’s lauded pacification program may simply be pushing violence to the outskirts.

The bodies of six males aged between 16 and 19, who had been missing since Saturday, were found on the morning of 10 September in the favela of Chatuba, in Mesquita municipality to the north of Rio de Janeiro. None of the youths, whose bodies bore signs of torture, had a criminal record, reported the AFP.

The discovery, which brought the number of homicides in Chatuba to 12 in the space of three days, prompted the government to deploy some 250 police officers and military armored vehicles to the favela in an attempt to find the killers.

Police officer Sandra Ornelas, from the nearby town of Nilopolis, stated that the killings were most likely committed by drug gangs trying to show their power in the area.

InSight Crime Analysis

On Rio Real blog, Julia Michaels outlines some conflicting theories as to what is causing violence in outlying areas of Rio. As she writes, state Governor Sergio Cabral said that the killings were a result of drug traffickers shifting location due to pressure from the Police Pacification Units (UPP) which began operating in Rio’s favelas in 2008 to secure the city before it hosts the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years later.

Michaels quotes others who question the migration theory, however, arguing that violence in “unpacified” areas is too sporadic to indicate a trend of shifting activity to the city’s outskirts. The killer of the six youths, for example, is thought to be Juninho Cagao, who is a local drug lord, not one pushed out of his operational base in Rio. One analyst cited by Michaels said that most traffickers remain in pacified favelas, though their business is made more difficult.

Some 112 military police are expected to remain permanently in Chatuba, reported the AFP. 

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