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Stranger than fiction: 'Elite Squad 2' opens as politician who inspired movie flees Rio

But is the congressman's abrupt departure from Rio de Janeiro actually a political ploy for the city's upcoming mayoral election?  Just another stranger than fiction event in Rio's struggle with crime.

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Nem is a peculiar guy, practically a character out of a bad action flick. He paid taxes in 2009, even though he was being hunted by police. In 2010, he faked his own death and funeral to try to trick the police. Last year, he invaded the Intercontinental Hotel in São Conrado with other traffickers and held hostages for several hours before escaping. According to The New York Times, he used to wear expensive suits and take his wife on a rented helicopter to tour the city. Before it was discovered by police, Nem's home was essentially a luxury condo hidden in the favela. After his arrest, he called his mother and told her to make sure his children didn't miss school.

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So why, after all this time, were cops able to nab the elusive Nem? Above all, he had paid police protection that allowed him to allude authorities for years. But last night, there was a breakthrough. First, the Federal Police (the equivalent of the FBI), arrested ten police officers and drug traffickers that were "escorting" Nem and other traffickers as they quietly fled the favela. The group was paid 2 million reais ($1.1 million) to help the traffickers escape. Second, police were closely monitoring cars leaving the favela, and members of the "shock battalion" of the military police were the ones who spotted the suspicious vehicle and pulled it over in nearby Gávea. Third, the police refused Nem's bribe.

Nem has been cooperating with the authorities, and has provided them with information that could potentially root out even more corrupt cops. He told investigators he was making 100 million reais ($56.8 million) a year, but that 50 percent of his income was used to pay off civil and military police.

While the initial preparations for pacification were a success, many are holding their breath for the actual "invasion" this weekend. According to a local crime reporter, because of the recent murder of the TV cameraman, security officials will likely not allow much press coverage, making it "one of the least transparent UPP operations" so far. The city is shutting down airspace over Rocinha on Sunday, and forces will likely include the army, military police, and BOPE. Time will tell if Beltrame and his team have determined the least violent way to send in the pacification force.

Hopefully, the occupation won't be movie-worthy material.

--- Rachel Glickhouse is the author of the blog Riogringa.com.

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