Considering that Brazil is the second-biggest market for cocaine in the world, relatively little is known about the shadowy networks that connect it to drug producing nations in the region, especially compared to the drug cartels that have become almost household names in the United States.
Soccer has long been a unifying force in Latin America. When the World Cup begins on June 12, televisions in homes across the region will be tuned to the matches. But "the beautiful game" has attracted more than just sports fans over the years. Either out of a desire for prestige, as a way to launder illicit cash or simply to get a cut of the action, professional soccer has also attracted some of the most infamous drug kingpins in the region, a process that has corrupted players, managers and officials.
After repeated failed efforts to rout the crack trade in São Paulo, the city is implementing an experimental new program which could provide a model for other drug-plagued cities in the region. But even as the city emphasizes the need for a policy based on harm reduction, police authorities are supplementing this approach with a traditional hardline attitude to drug use.
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