Drug dealers escape through Rio sewers

Rio de Janeiro Police scoured the sewers under Rio's sprawling slums Monday for hundreds of drug traffickers who fled an unprecedented military onslaught on the favelas that netted 40 tonnes of narcotics but few arrests.

With Rio due to host the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016, 2,600 paratroopers, marines and elite police, backed by helicopters and armoured personnel carriers, led a pre-dawn assault Sunday on the traffickers' bastion of Grota, a lawless city within a city with a population of 400,000.

Grota is just one of 15 favelas, or slums, that make up the Complexo do Alemao.

But of the 500 drug dealers thought to be hiding in the maze of streets, only 40 have been arrested.

Officials said they may have escaped through the sewers.

(Published by National Post - November 30, 2010)

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