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Brazil drug gangs move to ban crack

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Crack is whack, and even the most powerful drug gangs in Rio aren’t disputing that fact.

Amid a painful and violent uptick in crack-cocaine usage and facing increasingly successful police strategies pushing them out of the favelas, the most powerful drug gang in Brazil’s capital of Rio de Janeiro has opened up a public relations front, telling members of the press that they will no longer sell crack because it destabilizes communities.

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Authorities in Rio aren’t buying it, however. They believe the new twist in strategy is part of a smokescreen to confuse continued efforts at pacification, a police strategy that’s successfully pushed heavily armed drug gangs out of many areas in Rio’s notoriously violent slums, where civilians all to often wind up as innocent victims of stray gunfire.

Pacification techniques factor heavily into the city’s plans to host the 2016 summer Olympics, especially since Brazilian officials do not want visiting athletes or tourists to see the city’s open-air drug markets or relatively common violent side. By pacifying areas near where the games will be held, authorities have succeeded in creating a relatively safe public space, gradually winning hearts and minds.

But now the drug gangs are trying to win them back, vowing to stop selling crack for the sake of the community. According to The Associated Press, it started with the leader of Comando Vermelho, Rio’s most powerful gang, watching his brother succumb to crack addiction. And once Vermelho stopped selling crack, others were persuaded to stop as well after seeing how it has destabilized their customer-base.

“Today we can say with certainty that we’re looking at the end of crack in Rio de Janeiro,” a lawyer for the gangs told AP reporter Juliana Barbassa.

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This video is from The Associated Press, broadcast Monday, August 12, 2012.


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Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought! @JudicialWatch

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