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Brazilian police accused of racketeering

Rio de Janeiro, Dec 10 (EFE).- Brazilian police on Wednesday busted a violent gang comprising at least five police officers that controlled three Rio de Janeiro shantytowns.

Authorities said 15 suspected gang members were arrested in the first few hours of the operation, among them Rio de Janeiro state police Pvt. Carlos Roberto Bernardo.

The gang, according to authorities, employed torture, homicide, assaults and threats to hold sway over the Campinho, Fuba and Caixa D’Agua “favelas,” all located on Rio’s north side.

Police Inspector Alexandre Capote described the gang as “extremely violent” and said members would post photos of their dead victims on the Internet.

The gang extorted “security fees” from favela residents and merchants and maintaining monopolies over utilities, cable television and Internet and public transportation.

About 450 police officers were deployed for the operation that closed two gambling parlors and seized a sizable arsenal of firearms and ammunition.

At least three suspected gang members resisted and attempted to shoot at arresting officers.

In recent years Rio de Janeiro has seen the emergence of self-proclaimed “militias,” usually made up of current and former cops.

Militias have expelled drug trafficking gangs from tens of favelas only to impose their own criminal rule over the neighborhoods.