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Latin America

Businesswoman gunned down after entering Rio shantytown by mistake

Traffickers opened fire on 70-year-old and husband after they followed phone app directions

María Martín
Rio de Janeiro -
Francisco and Regina Murmura entered a Rio ‘favela’ by mistake.
Francisco and Regina Murmura entered a Rio ‘favela’ by mistake.

A 70-year-old Brazilian businesswoman has been gunned down by drug traffickers after she and her husband took a wrong route given to them by their cellphone’s navigation application that led them into one of the most dangerous shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro state.

The incident occurred on Saturday when Francisco and Regina Murmura left their home in Rio de Janeiro to meet up with some family members at a pizza parlor in Niterói, a nearby city.

Their mistake led them into the Caramujo favela where traffickers fired at least 20 rounds at their vehicle

With her husband driving, Regina, who was also a journalist, gave him directions using the Waze GPS-based navigation app on her cellphone. The couple took the wrong route after they confused an avenue, near the beach, with another street, because both had the same names, Quintino Bocaiúva.

Their mistake led them into the notorious Caramujo favela where a group of traffickers fired at least 20 rounds at their vehicle. Regina was hit in the back.

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The husband got out of his car to plead with a group of about 20 traffickers to let them go so he could get his wife to a hospital. After one of them hit him in the head with the butt of his gun, they allowed him to drive off.

“They thought I was a police officer,” recalled Francisco, age 69, at his wife’s funeral.

This was not the first time that someone had mistakenly pulled into the dangerous favela.

Two months ago, Brazilian actress Fabiana Karla – famous for her appearances on reality and comedy shows – and her husband drove into Caramujo after following directions from a similar road application.

The couple was also met with gunfire, but escaped unharmed.

Caramujo is one of the most dangerous favelas in Niterói with 25 murders, 24 deaths in police shootouts and 25 disappearances all occurring there between January and August of this year, according to figures from Brazil’s Public Security Institute and published by O Globo newspaper.

Caramujo is one of the most dangerous favelas in Niteroi with 25 murders, 24 deaths in police shootouts and 25 disappearances all occurring there this year

Entering any Rio de Janeiro favela controlled by traffickers depends on the approval of gang leaders. Taxi drivers often refuse to take passengers inside the shantytowns overseen by drug lords.

In May, a 36-year-old mountain climber was killed after he was shot in the head while trying to reverse his vehicle from an alley inside the Baixada Fluminense shantytown in Rio de Janeiro state.

With the Rio Olympic Games less than a year away, public security has become a real challenge for the government, which is grappling with a high murder rate.

In 2013, 53,646 people were killed in violent deaths in the city.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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