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Inside ‘Crackland’ where zombie-like addicts roam and dealers sell by daylight
August 2, 2021
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In the notorious drugs capital of Sao Paulo, hundreds of 'zombie-like' Brazilians wander around the streets in a crack cocaine trance.
This unbelievable part of Brazil's largest city features substance abuse so rampant that it has been dubbed 'Crackland'.
Last week, a glamorous alleged local drug dealer known as the 'Kitty of Crackland' was pounced on by detectives and found with drugs in her underwear.
Lorraine Cutier Bauer Romeiro, 19, had hidden weed in her bra and crack cocaine in her knickers, according to police in Sao Paulo.
This alleged dealer is just one of the many drug pushers who are said to be exploiting the raging drugs epidemic going on in Brazil.
In Crackland, the drug culture is so rife that police actively turn a blind eye to addicts looking for their next hit, The Mirror reports.
Criminals who operate in the area do so with almost absolute immunity – even setting up stalls in the streets and giving out free samples to the hundreds of desperate people roaming the streets.
An individual hit of crack cocaine can cost as little as a chocolate bar, which makes it a dangerously affordable option for homeless residents.
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Addicts line the streets wrapped in blankets and queuing up at pop-up drug kiosks, with police guarding the perimeter but mainly watching out for other crimes liker assault or robbery.
Previous studies have found that one in three people died within the first five years of ending up in Crackland, usually from violence, the Guardian reported.
Some politicians have previously tried to tackle the spiralling drug culture in the area, especially as the location is targeted for gentrification due to its close proximity to Luz, the city's biggest train station.
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The approach has been progressive before, with a scheme in 2014 which offered addicts housing, medical care and part-time work to help them off the streets.
But authorities have taken a harder approach in the past too.
In 2017, when former Sao Paulo mayor Joao Doria was elected, bulldozers and military troops marched on the area firing gas grenades and rubber bullets, sending inhabitants fleeing for their safety.
At the peak of Crackland, over 2,000 drug users roamed the streets there.
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That number has plummeted in recent years but the Covid pandemic has seen the population begin to creep up again.
Since March, when the number of inhabitants had been falling, monthly increases have returned, says the Rio Times.
Crackland's peak arrived in June, a month which saw 722 people take to the drug-riddled section of Sao Paulo – a whole 24% higher than the same month in 2020.
Early in the pandemic, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro infamously attempted to downplay the coronavirus pandemic and was slow to call for any restrictions across the country.
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The virus is now ripping through the country and is only second to the United States in total deaths worldwide, recording 554,626 as of July 30.
Back in April, Reuters followed a psychiatrist named Flavio Falcone, who has took it upon himself to try and clean up the area by dressing as a clown and encouraging addicts to get mental health support.
“This character represents the exposure of mistakes, of the fragility of what exists in the shadow. The exposure of failures,” said Falcone.
“The people who are on the street are really the failures of capitalist society.”