BOPE Brazilians Elite Squad Mission

The favelas of Rio de Janeiro from the hilltops of the Zona Sul - Copabana, Ipanema, Leblon (south zone) to the plains of the Baixada Fluminense live in a permanent tension. These are some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Brazil, enjoying little or no provision of public services. Thrown back on their own resources, Rio's favelas have grown into networks of narrow alleys, makeshift lean-tos and improvised plumbing and wiring. For these communities the hardships of poverty are compounded by a constant sense of insecurity and imminent violence.

Drug gangs have rushed in to fill the vacuum left by the state, organising themselves into the rival factions (like Comando Vermelho) that now dominate the city. The state government's response has been a series of ever more confrontational crack downs, involving large scale police operations which target not just criminal gangs, but entire favela communities.