Areal footage of armored vehicles chasing down notorious drug traffickers in one of Rio de Janeiro’s several favelas made its way across the airwaves this weekend, as police operations cracked down on the illegal drug trade there. However, because of a police perimeter and other factors, mainstream media couldn’t enter the favela to report from the ground, and Brazilians were left wondering what exactly was happening to the estimated 65,000 people living in the Complexo do Alemao favela.

But that all changed when a 17-year-old Twitter user began tweeting about the gunfire, smoke and the community reaction through his impromptu news network within the favela.
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