As Brazilian authorities work to take back control of favelas (slums) from the hands of the drug dealers ahead of two global sporting events, the World Soccer Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, police in Rio captured one of the city’s most notorious drug traffickers.
Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, alias “Nem,” was found hiding Wednesday night in the trunk of a car attempting to avoid a police siege in the outskirts of Rocinha, a slum in the heart of Rio that was under his control, police said.
But the car was stopped at a police checkpoint, and a confusing scene unfolded.
The driver of the car told police he was a Congolese diplomat and refused to open the trunk, police said. He then partly relented, saying he would only open it at the federal police station.
On the way there, police said, the car stopped again and one of its occupants offered the officers 20,000 reais (US$ 11,400) in exchange for their freedom. When the officer declined, the offer was raised to 1 million reais (US$ 572,000), police said.
The local officers called in federal police, who conducted an immediate search of the vehicle and discovered “Nem” in the trunk, according to the police.
The driver claimed to be an “honorary consul” of “Congo,” but the embassy of the Republic of Congo that they have no consul in the country, and the Democratic Republic of Congo said it has no diplomatic mission there.
A second passenger in the car was identified as an attorney and a third man also claimed to be an employee of the consulate.
Rocinha is one of Brazil’s biggest favelas and one of the main strongholds of the drug dealing in the country. Rocinha is a community with nearly 150.000 residents, according to the last census.
Nem controlled the drug trafficking in the favela for nearly 10 years, according to police reports.
A report published by the daily O Globo today says the drug lord, in testimony to the Federal Police, said that half of everything he made selling drugs was spent on bribes to civil and military police.
“If this is proven, the policemen have to be arrested and respond to criminal and disciplinary proceedings,” Rio’s governor said after being told of the charges.