Thu, Aug 11, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Brazil pushers use Winehouse picture to promote cocaine

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

A gang of drug traffickers is inserting pictures of late British singer Amy Winehouse in their bags of cocaine to improve sales, Brazilian police said on Tuesday.

The clear plastic bags carry a paper insert with a picture of the troubled 27-year-old singer, who died at her north London home on July 23. She is described in the insert as “Amy House.”

Bags of cocaine with Winehouse’s picture were being sold at between 10 and 25 reals (US$6 to US$16), said Lieutenant Colonel Glaucio Moreira, who led a police raid in the shantytown of Manginhos that made the find.

“Since there is so much information in the media that she was a drug user, the traffickers have taken advantage of this” to market their cocaine, Moreira told local media.

Winehouse’s vocal talents were often overshadowed by her drug addiction and drinking problems. Her best-known single, Rehab, details the singer’s troubles and reluctance to undergo rehabilitation treatment.

During the raid, police also found bags of marijuana and crack cocaine, some of which had pictures of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Police confiscated automatic weapons and grenades along with the drugs.

Local media reported that a shootout took place when police raided the site, located in the northern area of Rio.

Winehouse’s death remains unexplained, with toxicology test results due within weeks, though it is not being treated as suspicious.

Rio is due to host the 2014 football World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympic Games, and is desperate to ensure neither of the top world sporting events is marred by the violence stalking some of city’s toughest neighborhoods.

In a race against time, Rio authorities have in the past three years been pushing steadily into several slums — known here as favelas — to stamp out nests of crime and violence ahead of the two big sporting events.

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