RIO DE JANEIRO - Thousands of soldiers and police officers entered a complex of favelas in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday in the largest show of force by the military since it took control of security in Brazil's second-largest city last month.
Rio is experiencing a wave of violence nearly two years after it hosted the 2016 Olympics. The games were preceded by a major push to improve security, but safety has since deteriorated dramatically as drug trafficking gangs fight for control of swaths of the city. Militias formed by current and former police officers are also vying for influence.
As a result, there are frequent gunbattles in marginalized areas, and shootouts have occasionally spilled into the wealthier areas along the city's famous beachfront.
On Tuesday, 3,400 soldiers and 500 police entered the Lins Complex. The military command said forces were creating a perimeter around the area to prevent suspects from fleeing and were clearing the streets of obstructions placed by gangs. Soldiers walked the streets, and armored vehicles rolled through the neighborhood.
By evening, the military command said 24 people had been detained. The force also seized three guns, about 22 pounds (10 kilograms) of marijuana and a "vast quantity" of powder and crack cocaine, along with several cars and motorcycles suspected of being used for drug trafficking, the command said.
While the military's intervention in Rio has come under criticism for yielding few results in the month since it began, Julieta Goncalves, a resident of Lins, said she already felt safer.
"We can come here to the market with more security," she said as she bought provisions Tuesday. "There are police protecting us."
But Jorge de Souza, another resident, said morning patrols were nice, but he would like to see more troops on the street at night.
"At night, this place here is dangerous," he said.