Rio is seeing violent, chaotic days. Just as Jogador, who spoke to The Associated Press two weeks before the recent clashes, said it would be.
Armed men have set up roadblocks in key areas — a highway leading to the international airport, an avenue running by the state government's
headquarters, quiet streets in wealthier neighborhoods — letting loose rifle fire, tossing grenades. More than 100 cars and buses stopped in the
dragnets have been set on fire, usually after their occupants fled.
Police responded by invading more than 20 slums, engaging traffickers in massive shootouts, killing at least 25 people, mostly suspected drug gang
members, and arresting more than 200.
Authorities now control one of the most fortified slums where traffickers long ruled with impunity, and are preparing to invade another that many fear
will ignite an even bloodier battle.
The scenes of urban warfare in Rio on the nightly news bring back memories of 2002, when drug gangs protesting the prison conditions of their
incarcerated leaders shut down Rio, a city of 6 million people — twice the size of Chicago. They burned buses, sprayed government buildings with
bullets and grenades, and sent foot soldiers out to warn businesses to close. Similar shutdowns went on for months.
Now the three major gangs are preparing for another fight, and according to Jogador, are ready to end their bloody rivalries and join forces against
the police. Rio's top security official and governor acknowledge that the battle is heating up — and that the gangs seem to be unifying.
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