Latin America: Rio Cops Rounded Up in Drug Corruption Probe

Brazilian police arrested 52 of their own this week on suspicion of involvement with drug trafficking in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The officers, all from a district on the city's outskirts, stand accused of taking money from drug bosses to warn them of impending raids.

They face charges including drugs and arms trafficking, extortion, and conspiracy for allegedly accepting between $1,000 and $2,000 a week to warn traffickers about forthcoming police operations in the city's teeming favelas (shantytowns), where the so-called "drug commands" vie for control with the forces of the Brazilian state.

The drug commands and Brazilian police have engaged in numerous armed confrontations in the past few years, including command-led uprisings that led to dozens of deaths, as well as chaos on the streets of Rio.

Brazilian police are often accused of corruption and brutality. In June, 19 people were killed in police raids in one favela, leading to renewed complaints of excessive force and human rights violations.

The mass round-up of corrupt cops is the second one in 10 months. Last December, 75 Rio police were arrested on similar charges. This week's arrests will not be the last.

"Unfortunately, we have policemen involved with crime," Rio de Janeiro state security chief José Beltrame told reporters. "This work is not over and will continue."

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Temporary (but big) problems after legalization

I love to think about how the world will be when drugs are legal. The only problem i foresee though, is this: what will all the drug dealers and cops do for a living? Cops and drug dealers are the most badass people in society, and they will be out of work. We're talking about a huge amount of people. They're not just gonna miraculously leave behind their violent habits and get decent jobs (and even if they wanted to, are there that many jobs available?). For a long while there's gonna be a lot more carjackings, robberies with assault, probably even kidnappings for ransom. It really will be a pretty intense increase in the amount of nonviolent people who become victims of violent crimes. (At least nowadays it's mostly just drug dealers and cops who are victims of each other's violence). Plus, the prohibitioners will be on our asses saying "we told you there'd be more crime! we have to make drugs illegal again!" It'll be annoying as hell (and they'll have a valid point).

The good thing is, it won't go on forever, (none of those activities are nearly as effective for getting a stable income as drug dealing or drug busting, (or are they victimless crimes (or legal in the case of drug busting)). Another good thing is that drugs won't be legalized all at once. Marijuana, the most used and sold one, will be legalized much earlier than the rest, so maybe the transition will be slow enough for us to adjust.

However, the transition is likely to be pretty rough. What i wonder is, will it all eventually settle down completely? Can it really be as wonderful as we legalizers envision, or are we kidding ourselves when we dream of a world with hardly any violence, where almost everyone makes a decent living, and almost everyone goes to college; is it possible for society to be so peaceful and prosperous, or is crime just gonna be different? In the long i think it would settle down, but the transition will likely be rough. Or, possibly, we can come up with ways of making that transition without leaving all those drug dealers and cops with nothing to do.

One thing we could do is make it fairly easy for current drug dealers to set up legitimate drug selling businesses, but that idea is probably not gonna be very accepted. And also, maybe just try to not fire the cops. Just leave the thousands of cops out there patrolling the streets, even if it seems excessive. I don't know....

or, actually.....

Or, actually, now that i think of it, just leave the drug dealers with nothing to do and keep the same amount of cops to deal with the drug dealers who try new, different crimes. Huh, I guess that solves it....

Still though, the decrease in crime from legalizing drugs will not happen overnight, unfortunately. I think it will take a while for the culture of violence (that prohibition has created) to subside. Obvioulsly, this doesn't mean i think prohibition is a good thing. I just think it's important to think about the details of how the transition to legalization could best be implemented.

And also, on a slightly different note, we should come up with more detailed proposals as to how to regulate drugs. The more detailed our proposals, the more credibility we'll have when we try to convince others to legalize drugs. The trickiest ones will be, i think, stimulants that are big party drugs. For example, should we allow "coke bars", where they sell alcohol and cocaine? Should we allow some dance clubs to sell ecstacy as well as alcohol (which is a dangerous combination)? What about dance clubs where they sell anything and everything, but that have a small nurse staff present equipped to deal with overdoses (like the way they do in safe injection sites for heroin overdoses)? There are many possibilities, and the more we think about the details, the more we'll be able to convince people to legalize (and the better prepared we'll be to legalize).

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