Rio police capture drug boss, rare victory amid violence
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Police in Rio de Janeiro captured one of Brazil’s most wanted drug bosses Wednesday, a rare victory for authorities struggling to curb rising violence a year after the city hosted the Summer Olympics.
The arrest of Rogerio Avelino da Silva came amid an operation in the northern part of the city that included nearly 3,000 police and Army soldiers who have been sent in to help stabilize areas of frequent conflict.
Police said da Silva was found under the covers of a bed in a house in the favela, or slum, of Arara. Two bodyguards reportedly fled when police arrived. Police said da Silva gave a fake name and said he was a cousin of the woman who owned the house.
“For 10 years, he has been causing problems for Rio de Janeiro,” state Security Secretary Roberto Sa told reporters.
Da Silva, known as “Rogerio 157,” is accused of crimes including homicide, trafficking and extortion. Authorities had offered a US$16,000 reward for information that led to his arrest and circulated his image widely.
Over the last several months, several police operations, which shut down parts of Rio and often led to shootouts, have been focused on apprehending da Silva.
Da Silva oversaw drug trafficking operations in the Rio slum of Rocinha, one of Brazil’s largest. In August and September, battles between followers of da Silva and a former Rocinha boss, who is in prison, prompted authorities to send in military police and soldiers to stabilize the area.
Within hours of Wednesday’s arrest, several photographs of police with a handcuffed da Silva began appearing on social media. In one selfie, both a woman police officer and da Silva smile. Authorities said they would crack down on that behavior.
“People should not glamorize a criminal,” Sa said, adding that the capture likely led to a moment of euphoria for police.