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EXCLUSIVE - Rio: on the frontline against crime

Guns and drugs are everyday currency in parts of Rio de Janeiro, which is set to welcome the world for the next World Cup and Summer Olympics. The authorities claim to have made progress in making previous no-go zones into places of relative safety. But the gangs are still in power. France 24's Nicolas Ransom in Brazil, embedded with drug traffickers, reports.

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Pacification is the topic everybody is talking about in Rio de Janeiro. The 'marvelous city' faces staggering assassination statistics, particularly in the favelas. Since the end of 2008 the goal of Brazilian authorities has been to regain control of districts that have been in the hands of armed gangs for over 40 years.

So far it seems to have been successful. Crime and homicide rates have dropped, property rental prices have risen, and investors and businessmen are enjoying a peaceful working atmosphere. With its favelas momentarily 'pacified', Rio de Janeiro's standing is improving abroad.

But it is time to look beyond the statistics. Where are the gang leaders who have been moving from one favela to another? How do the drug markets work, and where have the heavy weapons gone? How do the people in favelas’ live?

To understand the kind of city Rio de Janeiro is, we wanted to shed-light upon the life of its gangs. The whole point was to understand drug trafficking from the inside. After months of negotiations, the leaders of the "CV", the Vermelho Commando, (or "Red Command"), agreed to let us in.

We were immersed in a realm of guns, drugs and parties, on the outskirts of Rio. These districts are still theirs, but for how long?
 

[Special thanks to Marco Alves for his help in researching the Vermelho Commando]

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