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Brazil military moves in ahead of World Cup

Brazilian troops occupy a Rio de Janeiro slum in order to quell the recent surge in violence ahead of the World Cup in June.

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Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian police backed by troops have occupied a massive slum next to Rio de Janeiro's international airport without firing a shot to secure one of the city's most violent neighbourhoods long run by drug dealers.

Wresting control of the area from drug lords was a security priority for authorities because it surrounds the expressway to Galeao airport where tens of thousands of people will arrive in June for the soccer World Cup.

Marines in armoured cars reinforced the operation on Sunday that took barely 20 minutes to re-establish police control over the Mare slum complex, where 130,000 people live in poverty on the north side of Rio.

 A Brazilian military police officer patrols the Mare slum complex.

A Brazilian military police officer patrols the Mare slum complex. Photo: Getty Images

Police said they seized guns and 450 kilograms of marijuana and arrested two suspected dealers. Residents said most drug traffickers slipped out the slum ahead of the occupation, which was announced on Friday.

"This is a strategic area for us, a city within the city. Traffickers have been there for years," Rio de Janeiro state security chief Jose Beltrame said.

The occupation follows a wave of attacks on police posts in slums that been occupied under Rio's so-called "pacification" program launched in 2008 to expel drug gangs to make the city safer ahead of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games.

 A military police helicopter flies over the Mare favela.

A military police helicopter flies over the Mare favela. Photo: Getty Images

The backlash heightened concerns about security during the global sports events Brazil is due to host.

President Dilma Rousseff agreed to a request from Rio's state governor for federal troops to be deployed in the more notorious slums ringing Rio during the World Cup.

Reuters