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‘Cracolandia’: Cheap crack cocaine epidemic decimates Brazil

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WHAT: Almost two decades after the U.S. emerged from the worst of its own crack epidemic, Brazilian authorities are watching the inexpensive drug spread across 98 percent of the counties in this nation of 190 million people.

HOW: At a price of only $3 per rock, Brazilian crack cocaine is cheap enough to be smoked by street children and the unemployed. In Rio de Janeiro, crack-related arrests jumped from 546 in 2009 to 2,597 in 2010.

WHY: After a U.S. border crackdown on Mexican cocaine, Brazil became the main route to Europe for cocaine grown in the Andean nations. And with an economy booming after years of hyperinflation, Brazilians now have more cash to spend on drugs.