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Drug dealers say no to crack in Rio

Felipe Dana / AP

A man smokes crack in the Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 7. Some drug bosses say they have stopped selling crack because it destabilizes their communities, making it harder to control areas long abandoned by the government. City authorities take credit for the change, arguing that drug gangs are trying to create a distraction and make police back off their offensive to take back the slums.

Business was brisk in the Mandela shantytown on a recent night. In the glow of a weak light bulb, customers pawed through packets of powdered cocaine and marijuana priced at $5, $10, $25. Teenage boys with semiautomatic weapons took in money and made change while flirting with girls in belly-baring tops lounging nearby.

Next to them, a gaggle of kids jumped on a trampoline, oblivious to the guns and drug-running that are part of everyday life in this and hundreds of other slums, known as favelas, across this metropolitan area of 12 million people. Conspicuously absent from the scene was crack, the most addictive and destructive drug in the triad that fuels Rio's lucrative narcotics trade.

-- Reported by the Associated Press

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Felipe Dana / AP

Traffickers and users gather at a drug selling point in the Antares slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana / AP

Traffickers sell drugs in the Antares slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana / AP

People gather in an area known as "Crackland" inside the Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana / AP

A trafficker test fires a riffle in the Mandela slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana / AP

Traffickers sell drugs in the Antares slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana / AP

A trafficker stands at a drug selling point that stopped selling crack in the Mandela slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana / AP

A masked and armed trafficker at a drug selling point that no longer sells crack in the Mandela slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana / AP

Crack users gather under a bridge in the Antares slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Felipe Dana / AP

A crack user leaves a crack house near the Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.