More than 60 Brazilian police officers were arrested in Rio de Janeiro for taking bribes. Authorities conducted a year-long probe as a part of its effort to erase police corruption in the country’s second largest city. A reported total of 63 officers and 11 drug traffickers were brought in as a result of “Operation Purification.”
“We can no longer accept the humiliation of deviant conduct practiced by a few,” Police Force Commander Erir Ribeiro said on Tuesday.
As city and state officials prepare for the 2014 World Cup and Summer Olympics in 2016, ensuring the security and legitimacy of Rio’s infamously corrupt police force has been a priority. Due to generally low pay for cops, many look to crime for additional income. Members of the area’s lucrative drug trade are more than willing to compensate officers who look the other way.
According to national broadcaster Agencia Brasil, officers would receive the equivalent of around $1,200 whenever they patrolled certain areas. City suburb Duque de Caxias was one of the hot spots for the arrests. Charges ranged from corruption and drug trafficking to kidnapping, but Rio officials maintain that the grave charges point to serious recovery within the police force.
In the past Rio de Janeiro police have been criticized for their seemingly non-confrontational approach to shutting down the rampant drug trade, a strategy they claim prevents violent outbursts. Rio state secretary explained the value of the large crackdown. “It’s important that we cut into our own flesh so the institution can earn legitimacy.”