Brazil Journalist Killed in Northeast, New Epicenter of Drug Violence

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A radio reporter may have been killed for angering drug traffickers in Brazil’s northeastern state Bahia, where violent crime and drug trafficking has surged dramatically in recent years.

Journalist Laecio de Souza was killed January 3 in Salvador, the largest city in Brazil’s northeast. According to reports, he had received threatening phone calls prior to his murder, and local drug traffickers were reportedly dissatisfied with his attempts to build a community center in a working class neighborhood.

Two days after the murder, a 16-year-old boy turned himself in, stating that he had killed Souza because his radio program had reported on another crime commited by the youth. Police said that they did not believe this was the only motive and are investigating the matter further.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the case is still developing, it calls attention to the general rise of drug violence in Brazil’s northeast. Murder rates have actually dropped nearly 50 percent over a 10-year period in Brazil’s southeast, home to the country’s two largest cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. In contrast, the murder rate further north practically doubled over the same period.  

With high-profile security surges underway in cities like Rio, some drug traffickers may have shifted operations to more hospitable environments like Bahia state and its capital Salvador. Here, the market for crack cocaine is rising rapidly and fueling a crime wave. 

Five journalists were killed in Brazil last year, according to watchdog group the International Press Insitute.

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