In a little more than 10 hours – from 6 am to 5 pm – this Thursday, June 14, the Civilian police of São Paulo, Brazil, arrested 2,532 people, among them over 1,400 who were wanted by the courts, common criminals and police criminals. 160 of them were minors.
Operation Strike took place simultaneously in 645 municipalities. Together with the criminals authorities also seized 180 weapons, 234 lbs of drugs, over 250 vehicles and 2,967 illegal slot machines. Eleven bingo places had their doors shut down.
Following what seems to be a new trend, the police action got an English name: Strike. The operation's final data were released at the end of the day by São Paulo Civilian Police's chief, Mário Jordão Toledo Leme.
Leme indicated that at least 1,400 of those arrested will be kept in jail for an unspecified time. His men carried out over 1230 search and seizure warrants.
The operation command monitored and controlled everything from the Civilian Police's situation room in downtown São Paulo, where the action was being broadcast in two big screens.
About 20 police chiefs using notebooks kept in touch with police districts across the state via radio.
A gang of about a dozen private detectives was nabbed charged with doing wiretapping without a Justice warrant. "They had a giant bugging scheme throughout the state of São Paulo," explained the police chief.
The police was celebrating the capture of a gang whose specialty was to steal car fuel in the interior of the state. Among the policemen detained there were a fire department soldier, a corporal from the military police air division and a bank guard.
While, yesterday, was the day of reckoning, Operation Strike started April 25 as a broad action against a wide variety of gangs including those specialized in bank robbery, car theft, drug trafficking, cargo stealing.
He promised that São Paulo will keep doing this kind of giant operation that nabs hundreds of criminals and gets ample exposition in the media. For him one of the positive factor of this kind of action is the motivation of the police force.
"The corporation that gets together gets also motivated. We conduct a big intelligence operation. Everybody gets involved and is motivated. In April, during a similar operation, the population came to the policemen to hug them."
According to authorities, 18,217 civilian policemen, about 800 criminal experts from the Crime Institute, plus scores of military policemen took part in Operation Strike. They descended upon auto part stores, airports, ports, hotels and restaurants in a concerted effort. They were also prepared to release people being kept as hostages.