New reports signal a major rise in insecurity across the drug-trafficking hub Manaus, capital of northwestern Amazonas state, located near the Colombian border. Reports indicate that rates of drug-related crimes (score-settling, debt-settling, or problems arising from dependence) are on the rise across the city. Some estimates suggest that approximately 70 percent of homicides in Manaus are linked to small-scale trafficking, most of which occurs due to turf wars between rival gangs. Much of the cocaine and weapons entering Brazil from Colombia and Peru and that are sold in Rio de Janeiro and further on in Europe pass through Tabatinga, located on the Colombian-Peruvian-Brazilian border, and then to Manaus before heading south.
Although homicides, thefts, and robberies also occur, they are no more common than in any other large Brazilian city.
Manaus is the main city in northern Brazil as well as a major tourist destination for nature enthusiasts and one of the host cities for the 2014 World Cup. Surrounded by thick rain forest, it is located over 4000 km (2500 mi) northwest of Rio de Janeiro.
Most of the drugs and weapons imports into Brazil were controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Colombian insurgent group heavily involved in the drug trade; other guerrilla and transnational criminal gangs are also involved in the trade. According to one estimate, 70 percent of Colombian coca production (and therefore about 40 percent of the world supply) was controlled by the FARC, currently in the process of demobilizing following a historic peace treaty with the Colombian government. Many believe that if the deal is successfully implemented, those rural coca-dependent areas will continue to exist and sustain the drug trade unless there is genuine political and economic inclusion of those marginalized regions and groups, as well as incentives to shift to other crops.
Individuals present in Manaus are advised to remain vigilant and avoid entering favelas (slums; often located in very close proximity to more affluent neighborhoods). Keep in mind that criminals are often armed; never offer resistance if assaulted.
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