Brazilian Army Recovers Weapons Stolen by Drug Traffickers

Brazilian Army headquarters in Rio de Janeiro (Comando Militar do Leste) reports that they have recovered the ten rifles and a pistol that were stolen from an Army unit earlier this month.

For the last eleven days since the robbery, Army troops have invaded and scoured slums in Rio looking for the weapons. Their presence in the slums caused a number of skirmishes with drug traffickers resulting in firefights and explosions. There were civilian casualties.

On March 3, a gang of bandits overpowered sentinels at an Army unit in Rio de Janeiro and robbed ten rifles and a pistol. The Army response was unexpected and unexpectedly severe.

For eleven consecutive days and nights, troops invaded and scoured slum areas in the city ostensibly searching for the stolen weapons, but also disrupting the lives of slum dwellers and the business of criminal elements (mainly drug dealers).

Some reports say that as much as 70% of drug trafficking activities ground to a halt because of the presence of the Army.

According to vice president and minister of Defense, José Alencar, if the government of Rio de Janeiro requests Army assistance in combating crime it could receive that assistance.

"The Army does not run, the Army does not retreat," he said, explaining that if there is a formal request, which is necessary, the city could get help from the military.

Alencar said that the presence of the Army troops on the city streets and in the slums over the past few days had been "beneficial," lowering crime rates. He pointed out that the Army had operated legally, with search and arrest warrants.

"Sometimes we are maybe a little too comprehensive about crime. We comprehend and crime grows. Perhaps we need more direct action like putting Army troops on the streets to show that crime does not pay," said the vice president.

Alencar said he had informed president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva that the Army had recovered its stolen weapons. "The President said he was satisfied and praised the action by the Army," said Alencar.

Agência Brasil

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