More than 1,400 Brazilian police officers and Marines rolled into a massive complex of slums near Rio de Janeiro's international airport in a major security operation ahead of this year's World Cup.

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Members of the paramilitary police elite unit patrol the Favela da Mare complexAFP

Not a shot was fired as the Mare favela (shantytown) became the latest crime-ridden slum area to be targeted by security forces who moved in to take control and push out heavily armed drug gangs that have ruled Rio's shantytowns for decades.

The Mare favela occupies about 2 square miles of flat land in northern Rio and hugs the main road to the airport. It is home to about 130,000 people.

An aerial view of part of the Mare slumsReuters
Members of the Brazilian Armed Forces enter the favelaAFP
A paramilitary police helicopter flies over the Favela da MareAFP
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Brazilian Navy troops enter the Complexo da Mare, one of the largest favela complexes in RioGetty
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A member of Brazil's Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) looks for drugs and weapons in the MareReuters
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Brazilian military police officers examine drugs found in the favelaAFP
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A truck filled with drugsGetty
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Young girls watch a BOPE special unit sniper secure the area ahead of the major police operationAFP
A man showers on the street as policemen patrolReuters
Boys play football in the Mare slums complexReuters
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A soldier passes a wall peppered with bullet holesReuters
Brazilian marines in an armoured personnel carrier patrol the Nueva Holanda favela, part of the Favela da Mare complexAFP

In recent months, gangs have attacked police outposts in other favelas on orders from imprisoned gang leaders. As police occupy more areas, gangs lose valuable territory for the manufacture and sale of drugs.

The "pacification" programme has resulted in fewer shootouts but many residents have complained of heavy-handed police tactics. After police posts have been set up there is no state follow-up with social programmes that would improve favela-dwellers' lives.

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A child plays with a dogAFP
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A horse eats out of a dustbinAFP
People walk past a polluted stream in the Favela da Mare complexAFP
Two women chat in the Complexo da Mare complexGetty
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A woman cleans a fish under a shower on the streetsReuters
Children lead a horse through the Mare slums complexGetty
Children sit on a sofa on a street in the favela complexAFP