October 29, 2005

Rio drug lord killed in slum shootout with police

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Police killed the head
of a drug-trafficking gang who controlled Rio de Janeiro's
biggest slum in a shootout early on Saturday, officials said.

Erismar Rodrigues Moreira, known as Bem-Te-Vi, was the most
wanted man in the crime-ridden city. He was known for carrying
gold-plated weapons and was said to be popular with some in the
Rocinha slum because he helped provide for their needs.

The clash lasted about an hour in the early morning after a
force of 100 police raided Rocinha in an operation called
Trojan Horse aimed at arresting Moreira, aged 29, officials
said. Traffickers fought back with rifle fire and grenades.

"He resisted arrest, the gangsters tried to protect him and
the police didn't let him get away," Rio police chief Alavaro
Lins said.

Moieira was shot in the head and chest. A gold-plated Glock
9 mm pistol was found at his side. Three slum dwellers were
wounded in the clash and a fourth person believed to be a
trafficker was killed.

Police units stayed in Rocinha controlling entrances to the
shantytown on Saturday but witnesses reported renewed gunfire
in the afternoon, with residents running for cover. Residents
talking to local media said they feared a power struggle could
erupt in Rocinha in the next few days.

State Security Secretary Marcelo Itigaba told government
news agency Radiobras that undercover units had gone into the
slum several days ago. "We are going to continue with our work.
Taking out criminals is a task that has a beginning and a
middle but no end," Itigaba said.

Rocinha, with a population of about 100,000 people, is
reputed to be the largest slum in Latin America. Bem-Tem-Vi was
said to have controlled the drug trade there since April 2004,
when police killed former chief Luciano Barbosa da Silva.

Police investigations had linked Moreira to several top
Brazilian soccer players.

Gangs control most of Rio's slums, which are bases for the
sale of cocaine and other drugs to Rio residents of all
classes. Gang warfare often spills out in the streets, even
closing main thoroughfares in the seaside city.