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Day becomes night in Brazil's 'cracklands'

Reuters reports from Sao Paulo — When night falls, street crack marketplaces open for business.

The gritty transactions of the drug trade take over in city neighborhoods that hum with legitimate commerce by day. Throngs of stupefied buyers crowd around dealers before skulking away behind the telltale glow of cigarette lighters.

These are not the images that Brazil wants to project.

Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

A youth consumes crack on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro on March 19, 2012. Many Brazilian cities now have their own "cracklands," areas of the city where swarms of crack users have converted entire neighborhoods into nocturnal encampments doubling as open-air crack markets.

Paulo Whitaker / Reuters

A combination picture shows a street in Sao Paulo during the day and at night on March 19, 2012.

Lunae Parracho / Reuters

A drug user consumes crack in the old center of Salvador da Bahia on March 19, 2012.

Reuters photographers recently spent 24 hours in eight of those cities chronicling their "cracklands," as the neighborhoods have come to be known. They went from the decrepit center of Sao Paulo, South America's biggest city, to the waterfront slums of Rio de Janeiro. From the Amazonian capital of Manaus, to the colonial tourist hub of Salvador.

In each, swarms of crack users have converted entire swaths of central neighborhoods into nocturnal encampments doubling as open-air crack marketplaces.

The images reflect what sociologists, health experts and law enforcement officials say is a rapidly growing problem that puts Brazil squarely in the center of the international drug trade. Read the full report.

 

Paulo Whitaker / Reuters

Crack addicts quarrel on a street in Sao Paulo on March 19, 2012.

Paulo Whitaker / Reuters

Crack addicts consume the drug on a street in Sao Paulo on March 20, 2012.

Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

Crack consumers gather in the Gloria neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro on March 19, 2012.