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Rio de Janeiro - Some 250 police officers backed up by military armored vehicles occupied a suburban Rio slum Tuesday after six missing teenagers were found dead there with gunshot wounds and signs of torture.
The police said a force will remain in the Chatuba favela, located in the town of Mesquita north of Rio, on a permanent basis to flush out drug traffickers blamed for the violence in the impoverished community.
“Urgent action was necessary to bring back calm in this area in the wake of a significant number of barbaric crimes committed this weekend by drug traffickers who dominate Chatuba,” the public security ministry said in a statement.
The force was deployed after six young men turned up dead Monday on a roadside near the slum. The youths, who were between the ages of 16 and 19 and had no criminal records, had disappeared after swimming in a waterfall on Saturday.
“They were tortured. It was a barbaric crime. I think that the criminals killed them in that manner to show how powerful they are,” Sandra Ornelas, a police officer in the neighboring town of Nilopolis, told reporters on Monday.
Police are looking for a seventh 19-year-old men who also disappeared Saturday.
The police urged slum residents to collaborate, name criminals and point out their hideouts and drug and weapon caches. People were told to always carry their identity cards with them.
Nine people have been detained so far, including three for possession of cocaine.
A permanent force of 112 militarized police officers will eventually set up a permanent post in the favela, like in other slums in Rio.
Rio state authorities are trying to take back control of the region's sprawling slums ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Some 5 500 police officers have been deployed in 144 Rio favelas. - Sapa-AFP