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"Virtuous" Dealers Halt Crack Sales in Brazil

Some drug dealers in Rio apparently decide to sacrifice profits to help the city's drug-ravaged favelas.

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Crack has devastated Rio's poorest.
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By McCarton Ackerman

08/02/12

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Dealers in two of Rio's most famous slums, or "favelas", have reportedly decided to stop selling crack cocaine because of the drug's devastating impact on these communities. The Mandela and Jacarezinho favelas house over 100,000 people, but the dealers say the money to be made is irrelevant. "I am not going to lie to you, there is a lot of profit to be made on crack," says a Mandela-based dealer. "But crack also brought destruction in our community as well, so we're not selling it anymore. Addicts were robbing homes, killing each other for nothing inside the community. We wanted to avoid all that, so we stopped selling it." Not wishing to make a career change, most dealers plan to shift their focus to powder cocaine and marijuana. Local police are, unsurprisingly, skeptical of the motives behind the decision. "I think this is just a trick that the traffickers are doing," says Marcello Maia, a top drug crime investigator. "What they think is that now the police will stop combating other drugs they are selling, and we still stop entering their strongholds. But this is not what is going to happen." Brazil is known as a major exporter of cocaine to Europe and cocaine seizures in Brazil have tripled from eight metric tons in 2004 to 24 metric tons in 2009, according to The United Nations 2011 World Drug Report. In November 2011, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff introduced a $2.2 billion initiative (of which about $125 million will go to Rio) to remove crack addicts from the streets and place them into treatment facilities, as well as to create addiction prevention programs.

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