Brazil blocks $8 million from alleged financiers of January riots to pay for damages

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FILE PHOTO: Aftermath of Brazil's anti-democratic riots

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's federal police said on Thursday the country had frozen roughly 40 million reais ($7.99 million) belonging to alleged financiers of the Jan. 8 riots in Brasilia in order to pay for damages caused to public property.

The move was part of the 11th phase of an operation investigating people involved in the riots, in which supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro invaded and ransacked Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had taken office earlier in the month after defeating Bolsonaro in an October election.

Police said in a statement they were serving 22 search and seizure warrants ordered by the Supreme Court in three states, with goods and assets belonging to the still-unnamed targets being frozen or seized.

The operation was launched in mid-January to identify people who participated in, funded or fostered the riots, with dozens of raids carried out so far.

Federal police reiterated that the targets were being investigated for crimes of "violent abolition of the rule of law, coup d'état, qualified damage, criminal association, incitement, destruction and deterioration of specially protected property."

($1 = 5.0033 reais)

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Frances Kerry)