At least 28 people, mostly Rio de Janeiro police officers, were arrested on Friday on suspicion of colluding with drug gangs as the Brazilian city attempts to clean itself up before hosting the 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Games two years later.
It was one of the biggest operations against police corruption in the city, which is gradually overcoming a reputation for crime and violence. Rio police have long been accused of corruption and of covering up their violent tactics in the city's hundreds of slum areas that are often controlled by drug traffickers.
"No police in the world can turn the page without cutting its own body," Jose Beltrame, the Rio state secretary for public security, told reporters.
Hundreds of officers took part in the operation, code-named "Guillotine," seeking the arrest of 45 people, including 32 police officers.
The investigation began in 2009 when a planned police operation in a slum had to be aborted after details of the raid were leaked to drug traffickers, officials said.
Police officers targeted in the operation were also suspected of running protection rackets for illegal gambling, leading militia groups and taking bribes from traffickers.
One of the suspected leaders of the scheme, former police commander Carlos de Oliveira, was suspected of charging drug chiefs 100,000 reais ($60,000) a time in exchange for information about police operations. Oliveira, who had not yet been arrested, had since left the police to join the city government.
Crime rates in Rio have been falling, which authorities have attributed to their policy since 2008 of sending in specially trained police to occupy slums and drive out drug gangs. Rio recorded its lowest murder rate since 1991 last year -- 30 homicides for every 100,000 people, down about 18 percent from 2009.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 12 Şubat 2011, 13:13