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Homem de Aranha

from The Guardian UK

Brazil crime wars: Spiderman’s story of drugs and Jesus in Rio’s slums

How evangelical preachers are trying to stem the tide of killings in the Olympic city

by Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

“If you add them all up I control 15 communities,” boasted Spiderman as his shiny 4×4 hurtled through the narrow backstreets of western Rio de Janeiro. Behind the wheel was Juarez Mendes da Silva, 28, one of the Brazilian capital’s most wanted drug lords, better known by the nickname Spiderman. The words “Jesus” and “Christ” were tattooed on to his forearms in black. In the boot his pet dog, Bloodsucker, shared space with an M-16 assault rifle.

With the dashboard’s electronic clock marking 2am, the car careered through the Complexo da Coréia, one of the city’s largest and most notorious slums, home to around 60,000 Brazilians and the HQ of one of the city’s three main drug factions, the Pure Third Command.

What would happen if we ran into the police? “They would open fire,” Spiderman replied bluntly, his mouth half full with fluorescent pink candy. Welcome to the inner-sanctums of a murky underworld of murder, violence and solitude that is rarely seen by outsiders. Spiderman was conducting a guided tour of the sprawling slum where he was born, and where he was now in charge of the area’s lucrative drug trade and the leader of 200-strong private militia of heavily-armed young men.

“The lives we lead – we know they aren’t right,” he stuttered, pulling up outside a local sweet shop so he could stock-up on candy.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on November 5, 2009 by Editor

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