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Bracing for World Cup, Brazil Arrests Major Cocaine Supplier

Brazilian authorities have gone above and beyond in their attempts to sanitize the drug and crime-infested favelas surrounding the World Cup site.



By John Lavitt


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With the start of the World Cup rapidly approaching on June 12, Brazilian police arrested a reputed drug kingpin who is said to be a major supplier of cocaine sold in the sprawling shantytowns or favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Authorities in Brazil are worried about a potential crime wave that might happen during the World Cup. As a result, they have been doing everything they can to clean up Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding favelas before the first game of the 2014 World Cup is played.

Apprehended in the beginning of May, Eduardo Herculano da Silva has been accused by the Rio de Janeiro state police of smuggling 200 kilos a month of cocaine into Brazil from Bolivia and Paraguay. Police say Da Silva was a key supplier to Rio’s most powerful criminal organization in the favelas, Comando Vermelho, or Red Command. Smuggled into Complexo da Mare, a cluster of favelas on the north side of Rio, the cocaine was considered to be the fuel of the criminal element in the shantytowns.

As described by police inspector Delmir Gouveia, “Complexo da Mare was the Comando Vermelho depot for distribution of drugs to other favelas controlled by that organization.” Brazilian officers occupied Complexo da Mare in an attempt to stymie the drug gangs. Despite this effort and the arrest of Da Silva, Comando Vermelho has maintained control of several favelas in defiance of the authorities’ “pacification” campaign. There has been no easy answer to the desperation and criminal element generated by extreme poverty. It seems Brazil’s only answer at this time is to hand-over the problem to the military.

Although Brazil is attempting to militarize the Favelas, the problem may be too deep to solve with a mere armed response. In addition, forced evictions of poverty-stricken residents from the favelas is ending up causing more problems than its hoping to solve. With thousands of tourists and fans scheduled to rent rooms in the heart of these favelas, the vision of a major crime wave during the 2014 World Cup is frightening to imagine. Unless the authorities work out a truce with the gangs in charge like Comando Vermelho, there seems to be no way out of this potential nightmare.

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