Rio police begins to use drones to control drugs and crime in the city’s shanty towns

A battalion of Special Forces (BOPE) from the Brazilian city of Rio do Janeiro started using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones to air monitor the drugs trade and gangs in shanty towns surrounding the “marvellous city”.

The VANTS (Portuguese for UAV) manufactured by the Brazilian Military Engineering Institute with Israeli technology are being flown currently on an experimental basis over the estimated six hundred ‘favelas’ or shanty towns that ‘hang’ from the ‘morros’ (hills) which surround the city of Rio do Janeiro and its world famous beaches.

So far three VANTS are on test surveillance and in the near future could be used for several tasks including monitoring and support operations in many of the favelas which remain under control or threat from the drugs’ related gangs that hide among the impoverished residents, according to Montenegro Magalhaes Neto from the Military engineering Institute.

“When you send a Vant ahead, it will help you see what soldiers can’t see; we believe the Vants are going to help us save lives despite the fact they could be downed by ‘enemy fire” from these criminal groups some of which have heavy weapons and have even attacked our armour plated helicopters”, said Magalhaes Neto.

The most violent communities in Rio such as the Complexo do Alemao, were occupied by Brazilian Navy regular forces from November 2010 when they were taken over from the drug gangs until last July, following the closing of the Rio+20 environmental summit.

Anticipating several years of international events (2013 America’s Cup, 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics), the Rio authorities have decided to have special forces stationed in strategic areas of the city to ensure law and order for the thousands of tourists that are expected to visit the city.

Vants will play a crucial role in helping the forces anticipate the movements of the criminal gangs.