Brazil Launches Offensive against Crack Epidemic

By Dialogo
December 09, 2011

Brazil launched an offensive against what it called a “crack epidemic,” in reference to the growing use of the cocaine product in its territory.

The Brazilian offensive provides for medical care for users, a crackdown on cocaine trafficking from the borders to the cities, and a legal reform to enable the rapid destruction of seized drugs in order to prevent their diversion, the authorities said.

“We’re facing a crack epidemic in our country,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha admitted, accompanied by President Dilma Rousseff and other officials at an event in Brasilia on December 7.

Between 2003 and 2011 the number of cases of “chemical dependence” in Brazil increased tenfold, striking groups and regions that had not previously been affected, Padilha added. As a consequence, the government has designed an anti-crack plan worth around $2.234 billion that “combines three actions: prevention, care, and suppression,” Rousseff specified.

“An absolutely successful anti-drug plan is not yet in existence, at least in humanity’s recent history. What we’re putting into practice here is a joint-action agreement,” the president maintained.

There will be “suppression without accommodation,” Rousseff declared, recalling the recent deployment of troops in border areas to combat the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and merchandise.

As part of those actions, around 6,500 military personnel supported by planes and ships have been conducting border-control operations along 7,000 kilometers since November 23.

A study conducted in Brazil revealed that crack is overtaking alcohol consumption in the majority of Brazilian cities and towns, due to the drug’s accessibility as a result of its low cost, less than $2.85 per hit.