January 24, 2022

Take a walk through Brazil’s dangerous slums with the nation’s elite police force

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an-aerial-view-of-the-rocinha-one-of-rios-many-favelas a-man-is-searched-by-a-bope-officer-in-a-favela-in-addition-to-rooting-out-crime-bope-also-has-a-peace-keeping-mission-of-interacting-with-the-community-through-meetings-and-sports-events with-an-emblazoned-logo-of-caveira-or-skull-bope-strikes-fear-into-criminals-operating-in-the-slums a-bope-officer-walks-beside-a-bullet-pocked-wall-during-an-operation bope-the-elite-military-police-battalion-enter-the-unpacified-complexo-da-mare-one-of-the-largest-favelas-in-rio-de-janeiro-brazil bope-officers-takes-position-on-the-rooftop-of-a-school-at-the-rocinha-slum a-bope-officer-startles-a-young-sleeping-couple-while-searching-homes-for-guns-and-drugs pacifying-each-favela-and-its-many-alleyways-is-a-daunting-workout-especially-when-carrying-all-of-their-extra-gear simulated-crime-scenarios-such-as-this-one-on-a-train-in-maracana-stadium-provide-bope-officers-valuable-training-for-the-upcoming-olympic-games bope a-man-reads-a-newspaper-as-bope-take-positions-during-a-raid-of-the-mangueira-slum a-member-of-bope-listens-at-a-door-while-on-a-patrol the-close-quarters-of-the-favelas-give-bope-officers-a-challenge-given-that-the-gangs-and-militias-in-the-favelas-are-highly-organized-bope-officers-undergo-an-intense-training-regimen night-time-raids-can-be-a-blessing-and-a-curse-for-bope-officers-often-times-criminals-equipped-with-radios-have-knowledge-of-an-incoming-raid-well-before-they-arrive-to-their-favela an-elderly-woman-crosses-paths-with-members-of-bope-while-they-search-homes-for-guns-and-drugs a-bope-officer-reads-notes--allegedly-from-drug-traffickers--that-lists-the-amount-that-was-paid-to-people-who-tipped-off-gang-members-about-police-presence members-of-bope-are-equipped-with-weapons-and-tactics-that-normal-police-officers-are-not-issued-or-trained-for their-motto-victory-over-death-is-not-only-a-testament-to-their-determination-but-also-evidence-of-the-fact-that-even-a-minor-mistake-can-cost-them-their-livesScreen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.43.04 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.42.39 AMScreen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.42.19 AMByDavid Choi  From Business Insider

A BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) officer patrols on the rooftop of a school while on patrol at the Rocinha slum.Silvia Izquierdo/AP

With the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro quickly approaching, Brazil expects over half a million foreign tourists.

Given the crime rate in Rio, local officials have declared war on major offenders, primarily the drug lords, in their numerous “favelas.” Nearly 25% of Rio’s population reside in these favelas, which are extremely condensed areas that have been held by various drug lords. Frequent shoot-outs have been common for many years in these neighborhoods.

When the police aren’t able to subdue the problem, a special type of enforcer is called in. The “Special Police Operations Battalion,” or BOPE, is an elite group of officers that many citizens of Rio fear — and not just the criminals.

Some believe that BOPE’s existence is a curse, rather than a blessing — human-rights groups have accused the elite organization of extrajudicial executions and corruption. With a menacing logo of a knife through a skull and all black uniform and vehicles, it’s easy to scrutinize BOPE’s method of rooting out crime.

However, as the last resort for Rio’s police force, BOPE may be Rio’s only option to rid the favelas of drug activity in order to ensure a safer area for thousands of incoming Olympic tourists.


An aerial view of the Rocinha — one of Rio’s many favelas.
chensiyuan/Wikimedia Commons

BOPE, the elite military police battalion, enter the unpacified Complexo da Mare, one of the largest favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

A BOPE officer reads notes — allegedly from drug traffickers — that lists the amount that was paid to people who tipped off gang members about police presence.
Felipe Dana/AP

A BOPE officer walks beside a bullet pocked wall during an operation.
Silvia Izquierdo/AP

A man reads a newspaper as BOPE take positions during a raid of the Mangueira slum.
Victor R. Caivano/AP

An elderly woman crosses paths with members of BOPE while they search homes for guns and drugs.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Members of BOPE are equipped with weapons and tactics that normal police officers are not issued or trained for.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The close-quarters of the favelas give BOPE officers a challenge. Given that the gangs and militias in the favelas are highly organized, BOPE officers undergo an intense training regimen.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A member of BOPE listens at a door while on a patrol.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A BOPE officer startles a young sleeping couple while searching homes for guns and drugs.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

With an emblazoned logo of “caveira” or skull, BOPE strikes fear into criminals operating in the slums.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A man is searched by a BOPE officer in a favela. In addition to rooting out crime, BOPE also has a peace-keeping mission of interacting with the community through meetings and sports events.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Night-time raids can be a blessing and a curse for BOPE officers. Often times, criminals equipped with radios have knowledge of an incoming raid well before they arrive to their favela.
Sergio Moraes/Reuters

Their motto, “victory over death” is not only a testament to their determination, but also evidence of the fact that even a minor mistake can cost them their lives.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

It’s not unusual to find a BOPE officer that has been shot back on patrol. Given the favela’s dangerous nature, even cameramen documenting their work can easily find themselves between a gun fight.
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Simulated crime scenarios, such as this one on a train in Maracana stadium, provide BOPE officers valuable training for the upcoming Olympic Games.
Felipe Dana/AP

Pacifying each favela and its many alleyways is a daunting workout, especially when carrying all of their extra gear.
Silvia Izquierdo/AP

BOPE officers takes position on the rooftop of a school at the Rocinha slum.
Silvia Izquierdo/AP

As if their weapons weren’t intimidating enough, each BOPE officer is trained for urban and jungle warfare — they even hold mixed-martial arts seminars from infamous fighters such as Anderson Silva.
Silvia Izquierdo/AP

Fog hovers by Christ the Redeemer statue with the Cantagalo favela in the foreground on January 4, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With the Olympic Games set to start next month, time will tell if the pacification efforts of this elite force has paid off.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

For more on this story go to: http://www.businessinsider.com/brazil-elite-police-force-protecting-olympics-2016-7?utm_source=feedburner&amp%3Butm_medium=referral&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+businessinsider+%28Business+Insider%29

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