Rio police arrest 52 cops on drug crime charges

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 18 (Reuters) Rio de Janeiro state police arrested 52 of their own members on charges they took money from drug gangs to help crime bosses avoid capture.

Police also arrested five suspected drug traffickers in ''Operation Two Faces'' in Duque de Caxias, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Police have warrants for seven other police.

Andre Drumond, a state police commander, said yesterday the police officers that were arrested charged between 2,000 reais (1,041 dollar) and 3,900 reais (1,560 dollar) a week from drug gangs in three shantytowns in Duque de Caxias. In return, police would avoid doing raids in the region and would warn gangs of police plans.

As many as 15 suspected drug traffickers were arrested and let go because of the agreement they had with the police taken into custody on Monday, Drumond said.

''We are investigating other crimes committed by these police officers, like homicides, drug and arms trafficking, and robbery of truck cargo,'' Drumond said.

The arrests follow a similar operation in December, when 74 officers were taken into custody for links with organised crime.

REUTERS RC BST0502

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