Forced treatment for crack addicts in Sao Paulo

A police officer frisks a suspected crack user before letting him go in an area known as “Crackland” in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. Health officials and law enforcement agents are rounding up suspected crack addicts and forcibly putting them in treatment. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

SAO PAULO (AP) — About 50 Brazilian health officials and law enforcement agents are rounding up crack addicts in the city of Sao Paulo and forcibly putting them in treatment if deemed necessary.

The measure comes as many Brazilian cities face a crack epidemic like that the U.S. saw in the 1990s.

Sao Paulo authorities must conduct a simple health examination of addicts during Monday’s sweep, and then get a judge’s approval to force somebody into treatment.

Similar action has already taken place in Rio de Janeiro, which like Sao Paulo has seen areas of the city turned into chaotic “cracklands” where addicts roam the streets and use the drug night and day.

By early afternoon, Sao Paulo health officials had yet to say if they had forced anyone into treatment.

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