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."
-- END --
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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