Brazilian Army Takes Position in Rio to Secure City

The Brazilian federal government has heard Rio's appeals for more security and is sending federal troops to help patrolling the former federal capital. The first soldiers are arriving in Rio today, but it hasn't been defined yet where and how they will be acting.

According to the state's Public Security secretary, José Mariano Beltrame, the federal force of 400 men will start descending on Rio this Sunday night. It won't be before Tuesday, however, until authorities decide on how do deploy them.

One of Sérgio Cabral's, first acts upon being inaugurated as Rio de Janeiro governor earlier this month was to send a SOS to capital Brasí­lia asking for help from the National Force.

Just four days before Cabral assumed the state helm, Rio's drug lords put on a show of force and intimidation unleashing a series of attacks that ended up killing 19 people, seven of them trapped inside an interstate bus that was set on fire by gunmen who first robbed the passengers.

"The federal forces will be responsible for the security on our state borders as part of the Secure Border Operation,"  secretary Beltrame told reporters during the funeral of the Military Police 13th Battalion commander, lieutenant-colonel Alexandre Siqueira de Andrade, 43, who was killed by a gunman who had tried to rob him.

Colonel Andrade was going home Friday night, January 12, with his driver, in an unmarked police Volkswagen Gol when two gunmen on foot stopped them and tried to rob the policemen.

The colonel and the driver reacted firing several shots. One of the gunman, Márcio Alexandre Pereira Gomes, 25, already shot, was chased by Andrade and both ended up in a fist-fight at the top of Costa Verde bus company's garage roof, in the Bonsucesso neighborhood on Rio's north side. 

The 33-feet-high roof, however, gave way with the weight of the two men. Both were taken to the Alexandre Siqueira hospital but no one survived the fall. The colonel suffered cranial traumatism with loss of encephalic mass.

Rio's Security secretary has also revealed that he is reinforcing the security of the state's new Health secretary, Sérgio Côrtes. Authorities have foiled a plot to kill Côrtes last Thursday night, January 11.

The scheme was uncovered thanks to wire tappings. According to Rio's Security Secretariat, the assault was planned by people unhappy with the changes made by Côrtes since he took over as health secretary. 

The initial plans called for the secretary to be murdered January 9, but that day Côrtes had been around a strong security before and after visiting Rio's Coroner's Office.

Coincidentally, Côrtes was dining with Security secretary Beltrame when came the news that he had been marked to be killed that same night. Beltrame immediately called for police reinforcement to protect the threatened authority. Côrtes is now getting around the clock protection from the Core (Operations and Special Resources Center).

The new secretary has been receiving death threats since 2002, when he started working as director of the Orthopaedic Trauma National Institute, where he uncovered fraud schemes involving irregular bids.

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