Brutal Drug War Erupts in Rio

Many residents of some of Rio de Janeiro’s worst slums are fleeing their homes to escape a drug war that has left part of the Brazilian city in ruins, and killed a dozen people.

Smoke rose from the smoldering wreckage of a police helicopter shot down by drug gangs Saturday, while eight buses burned and gunfire filled the air in the slum of Morro dos Macacos.

Police say the fighting broke out early Saturday when one of the city’s three main drug gangs invaded the area in an attempt to expand its territory.

Ten suspected gang members were killed in subsequent gunbattles with police. Several people were injured.

Two police officers riding in the helicopter were killed. Police say the aircraft exploded on a football field after the pilot tried to make an emergency landing with the aircraft in flames. Four people on the helicopter managed to escape the flames.

Hundreds of police officers were sent into the area to end the fighting.

The outbreak of violence comes just weeks after Rio won the right to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

Rio has long been known for its high crime and murder rates, and has more than 1,000 slums or shantytowns, known as favelas.

– Article from VOA News on October 18, 2009.

Body in a trolley: the brutal reality of Rio’s drug

by Ed Harris, London Evening Standard

A woman carrying a child walks unconcerned past a trolley containing the dumped, hooded body of a man, the victim of bloody drugs battles sweeping through Rio de Janeiro’s slums.

Brazil’s president today promised to deal with traffickers after a weekend of chaos in Rio which claimed the lives of more than 20 people.

The latest violence came two weeks after the city won the 2016 Olympics, adding to fears that Brazil would be unable to guarantee the safety of competitors and visitors to both the Games and the 2014 football World Cup.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said: “We’ll do anything it takes and make all necessary sacrifices so we can clean up the mess these people are imposing on Brazil.”

Police said the death toll from weekend clashes between gangs had risen to 21 after more bodies were found in the Morro dos Macacos (Monkey Hill) slum, where gangs also shot down a police helicopter, killing three officers.

Mr da Silva said the government will provide emergency funding to fight the gangs that control many of Rio’s 1,000 slums.

He said: “It will take time to resolve the problems. When you have a conflict of this magnitude, the innocent people always pay the price.”

– Article from London Evening Standard.



  1. Beaviss on

    its sad.. see this shit everydays in tv… i am a brazilian.. this is not the only problem in my country , but one of the worst, and its a war that no make sense.. the drug dealers and the police got the same oppinion about marijuana.. but you know.. nothin changes..

    its fucked up living in a 3 world country..

    sorry.. for bad english =)

  2. Anonymous on

    Rio has a compound problem now. It’s the same thing the U.S. politicians better watch out for.

    There were lots of homeless people who had nowhere to go. They built makeshift housing for themselves on the outskirts and grew into larger and larger communities as the middle class was eroded. How does a person make lots of money when nobody is offering jobs and families are going without food and other necessities? Illegal drugs offer a quick way to make money in a hurry because of prohibition pricing.

    The rich keep getting richer and everyone else keeps getting poorer. The result is more shanty houses being built closer and closer to the rich peoples’ dwellings. The prohibition laws have led to gangs being equipped with military-grade weapons, political corruption, police corruption, civil rights violations, a disregard for authority among the youth, and a hatred for the police. The U.S. is already part way there…the hatred against law enforcement and lack of trust tends to grow greater with each new generation. They see the lies for what they are and are experiencing the injustices in record numbers.

    The more military might the Rio elite throw at the poor in the name of drug prohibition, the more they end up becoming prisoners of their own policies. The rich have to lock themselves inside of armed housing facilities at night to protect themselves from the gangs. The gangs are better armed than they are and can buy just about any military-grade weapons they want due to the money the illegal drug trade provides.

    It’s the same kind of scene that has shown up in Mexico, Central America, Colombia and other areas involved in the United States drug law campaigns. Countries that have tough anti-drug laws have high drug prices. Means more profit for peddling smaller amounts of the same substance. Economics 101 — supply & demand and risk vs. return.

    Supply goes down while demand stays the same = higher prices = more money for gangs willing to sell it.

    Risk for selling goes up = higher prices = more money for the more aggressive, more violent gangs. The moderates are either driven out or killed over time.

    Now the U.S. has the same activities showing up in its borders as the gangs fight over who will take over the rights to sell in the lucrative United States market. The local growers and sellers in the U.S. have enjoyed the spoils of increased border protection. The Mexican cartels will probably want that territory back. Due to the illegal status of such disagreements over sales rights, guns, bombs, and public acts of violence will be used to settle disputes. Court rooms need not apply when disputes in black markets are involved.

  3. Big Fish on

    I guarantee you that marijuana isn’t the only drug they are having problems with.

  4. de Lena on

    The war on drugs in Brazil is outrageous!! As a Brazilian I’m ashamed by these circumstances. The Brazilian government keeps waging war on traffickers for the last 30 years or so, without any significant changes. Policemen get killed, innocent people die, and nothing is done to prevent these tragedies. The guns used to shoot down the police helicopter were smuggled into the country through brazilian borders with Paraguay and Bolivia, which means that Brazil has no control whatsoever over its borders.
    The only solution I see, is to legalize marijuana, therefore diminishing the traffickers economic power, disabling their organization. However, Brazil’s society is extremely conservative and the majority condemns the use of marijuana for any purposes. Thus, the government is unwilling to debate over marijuana laws fearing the loss of votes (as a Brazilian citizen you’re obligated to vote).