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October 9, 2012

The world's 10 deadliest cities

(Continued)

No. 10: Belém, Brazil

With cocaine streaming in from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, Belém has become a natural transit point for South American traffickers. The drug enters the city through the dense forests of the northern Amazon region by airplane or through the Amazon's many tributaries by boat, after which it is then shipped to other Brazilian cities or across the Atlantic to Europe and North Africa. That makes Belém, where the homicide rate has hit 78 murders per every 100,000 residents, an attractive piece of real estate, and violence has increased there accordingly. The city also bears the downsides of Brazil's rising prosperity. As the country has grown richer, its inhabitants have consumed more and more cocaine. The Financial Times has called this rise in cocaine consumption — Brazilians now snort or smoke some 18 percent of the global supply — the "most worrying side-effect of the country's recent consumer boom."

Beyond Latin America: New Orleans, Kingston, Jamaica, and Mosul, Iraq

No. 21: New Orleans, United States

New Orleans has made massive strides in rebuilding since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but the murder rate — 58 homicides per 100,000 residents — stubbornly remains the highest in the United States. Although the city suffers from the same poverty and easy gun access that afflict many of the world's murder capitals, it isn't known for the kinds of organized gangs that have sent the homicide rates of many other cities skyrocketing. A 2011 federal government report concluded that murders in New Orleans mainly stem from personal disagreements that spiral out of control, or, as Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas called it, "uncommon endings to very common fights." A flummoxed city administration has sought to stop the killing by deploying "interrupters" to cool tensions on the streets after shootings and prevent more retaliatory violence. When it comes to murder, however, New Orleans remains unlike any other city in the United States.

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