Newsbrief: Brazil Set to Become World's Biggest Cocaine Consumer 11/29/02

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Brazil's infatuation with cocaine has that country poised to displace the United States as the world's largest cocaine consuming county, according to a leading Brazilian drug researcher. "We are moving at such velocity that we are not yet, but will shortly be the leading global consumer of cocaine," University of Belem sociologist Argemiro Procopio told the Jornal do Brasil on Saturday.

Brazil is consuming 40 to 50 tons of cocaine annually, according to the US State Department, second only to the US.

Procopio, who has penned four books on Brazil's drug trade, pointed to various factors contributing to the growth in cocaine consumption in the country, including the strength of the drug traffickers, who effectively control many of the favelas (squatter communities with millions of inhabitants) of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo and are sometimes referred to as the "parallel power" (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/257.html#parallelpower). "It is the impunity [enjoyed by the traffickers] and the low price," said Procopio, "because today a rock of crack costs the same as a bottle of pop. It's within the reach of anyone."

The various drug trafficking organizations, known locally as "commands," market crack aggressively. In late 2001, one group marketed its rocks under the "Osama bin Laden" brand name. But, said Procopio, groups such as the urban commands and one of their most notorious leaders, the imprisoned Fernandinho Beira-Mar (Seaside Freddy), represent only the "stereotypical" face of Brazilian drug trafficking. "Beira-Mar is not the responsible one, nor is the drug traffic controlled from inside any prison," he said. "It is directed from comfortable, air-conditioned offices by people far from any suspicion. If we took the image of a military hierarchy, Beira-Mar would barely be a captain. The structure here is like that of the Russian mafias. There is not one, not two or three mafias, but a grand number, something like two or three thousand groups," said Procopio. "Organized crime in Brazil is decentralized."

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Issue #265, 11/29/02 DRCNet Needs Your Help! | Editorial: Going Out of Business | Pressure on Prisons: State Budget Crises Begin to Hit Home, Moves Afoot in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Virginia to Set Some Free | Weitzel Acquitted in Utah Pain Treatment Manslaughter Case Retrial | The Horrors of War: Forgetting the Occupation Through Obliteration | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Plan Colombia Foe Wins Ecuador Presidency -- Legalization Talk Among Gutierrez Supporters | Newsbrief: Brazil Set to Become World's Biggest Cocaine Consumer | Newsbrief: Colombian Leader Wants Drug Tests for Americans, Europeans, and Revival of Drug Plane Shootdown Program 265/sweetruling Newsbrief: A Sweet Decision -- Federal Judge Tells New York Cops to Quit Hassling Needle Exchange Participants | Newsbrief: DEA to Double Ecstasy Investigations | Newsbrief: ACLU to Hire Bob Barr as Privacy Issues Consultant | Correction/Retraction: NORML Did Help the Marijuana Reform Party | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar
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