Brazil police move into Rio de Janeiro gang strongholds
Police in Brazil say they have taken control of three poor districts in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
About 250 members of an elite police unit moved into the shantytowns, which have been virtual no-go areas for the security forces.
The operation is part of a long-term plan by the Brazilian authorities to retake poor areas of the city from drug gangs.
Police said the operation was peaceful, but that many gang members had escaped.
Police Captain Ivan Blaz said residents had been warned of the imminent police action, but that as a result most of the criminals they had sought had left the area.
He said his agents were searching the area house by house.
"Many criminals hide in houses and pretend to be normal residents, so we're going to move slowly and with care," Captain Blaz explained.
The Brazilian government has said it wants to rid Rio of drugs gangs ahead of the 2014 Football World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Thursday's sweep targeted the Engenho Novo area near the Maracana football stadium, which will host the final of the World Cup.