Notorious Rio drug trafficker caught

A paramilitary officer talks to a motorcyclist Thursday in Rio de Janiero during a search for drug trafficker Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, Known as "Nem." Lopes was found in the trunk of a car and arrested.

Story highlights

  • Brazil is working to regain control of Rio's slums
  • Authorities captured one of Rio's most notorious traffickers
  • He was hidden in the trunk of car
As Brazilian authorities work to "pacify" Brazil's slums ahead of two global sporting events, police in Rio de Janeiro captured one of the city's most notorious drug traffickers.
Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, alias "Nem," was found hiding Wednesday 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 (U.S. $11,400) in exchange for their freedom. When the officer declined, the offer was raised to 1 million reais (U.S. $572,000), police said.
The local officers called in federal police, who conducted an immediate search of the vehicle and discovered Lopes in the trunk, police said.
The driver claimed to be an "honorary consul" of "Congo," but the embassy of the Republic of Congo told the state-run Agencia Brasil 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.
Rio will play host to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, and has turned its attention to restoring control of the slums, or favelas, that had been in the hands of criminals and gangs.
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 70,000 residents, according to the last census. Lopes controlled the drug trafficking in that favelas for nearly 10 years.