Drug Dealers in Rio Quit Selling Crack

All too often, the drug war seems like a losing battle. And even when we’re able to bring down dealers or traffickers on US soil, the problem persists around the globe, frequently in impoverished areas where the lure of fast cash is impossible to turn down.

In the slums of Rio, in a metropolitan area that is home to 12 million people, teenage boys armed with automatic weapons sell cheap cocaine and marijuana in what has become a lucrative narcotics trade for the Brazilian city.

But there are bright spots in the battle.

Crack, once everywhere in this region, has almost disappeared. It’s not due to a police crackdown or government drug policy, though—it’s thanks to the drug lords themselves.

Many dealers have actually stopped selling the drug in Rio’s slums on orders by drug bosses who found it hard to control areas where crack took over. It’s ironic that the very criminals responsible for introducing the dangerous drug to their local communities are now shying away from it for the way it destabilizes those same communities. Traffickers predict the trend will spread throughout the slums to the rest of the city over the next few years.

Despite these reports, officials and local dealers are at odds over just who is responsible for crack’s waning availability in Rio’s slums. The police are all too happy to take the credit, while dealers suggest they have stopped pushing crack because they’ve seen what it can do. Whether it’s an attack of social conscience – unlike other drugs that are popular with Rio’s rich, crack has taken hold in poorer areas – or something more, many are signing on to kick crack to the curb. Of course, not everyone is on board with the ban. There are other groups of dealers who are less willing to say goodbye to millions in profits.

According to an estimate by the country’s Security Committee of the House and the Federal Police, Brazilians consume between 800 kilos and 1.2 tons of crack a day, a total valued at about $10 million. Crack has become such a problem in Brazil that the government allocated special funds to combat it, including a $253 million campaign launched by President Dilma Rousseff in May 2010 to stem the drug trade. Last November, another $2 billion was allocated for the creation of drug treatment centers.

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We may not win this war, but even small victories are worth celebrating. If you or someone you love needs treatment for drug addiction, call The Oaks at La Paloma at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.

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