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Rio drug traffickers capitalize on Olympic fever with creative cocaine packaging

One of dozens of packages of cocaine stamped with a Rio 2016 label, the Olympic rings, and a warning that reads, “Keep away from children,” confiscated by police in a raid on the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 25. (Rio de Janeiro State Police/Handout via Reuters)
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There’s another doping scandal brewing at the Rio Olympics and this time it has nothing to do with Russia. Drug dealers in the city have started peddling cocaine in Olympic packaging, HuffPost Brasil reports. The package features the Rio Olympic logo, the five Olympic rings and some helpful instructions: “Keep away from children.”

Police discovered the Olympic-branded cocaine baggies on Monday night among a cache of 93 bags of the stuff that they seized earlier that evening in the tourist-friendly neighborhood of Lapa, according to Brazil’s Globo newspaper.

It’s easy to make light of the entrepreneurial spirit of the person whose idea it was to use the city’s upcoming Olympics to sell more drugs, but drug crime in Rio is no laughing matter. Homicides in Rio were up 15 percent in the first four months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015.

‘Welcome to Hell,’ Rio police tell visitors, as body parts wash up on Olympic beach

“Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the world with a national homicide rate of 27.1 per 100,000 inhabitants,” Paula Miraglia wrote in a recent report for the Brookings Institute. “A large part of this violence and criminality can be linked to arms and drug trafficking operations by organized crime groups.”

Olympic organizers recently upped the number of security officers set to patrol the Games to 88,000 individuals. That total includes 21,000 soldiers and 47,000 police officers to patrol the streets of Rio, and another 20,000 soldiers to secure the five cities set to host the Olympic soccer tournaments. Those cities are Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador and Sao Paulo.

But even police in Rio have been subject to criticism, including just this week when a New Zealand jiu-jitsu fighter, who lives in Rio but won’t be competing in the Olympics, claimed the city’s police held him for ransom.

Kiwi jiu-jitsu fighter says Rio ‘police’ more or less held him for ransom

“I’m not sure what’s more depressing, the fact this stuff is happening to foreigners so close to the Olympic Games or the fact that Brazilians have to live in a society that enables this absolute [malarkey] on a daily basis,” wrote Jason Lee in New Zealand’s Stuff magazine this week. “This place is well and truly [messed up] in every sense of the word imaginable.”