Pope warns drug traffickers

The pontiff, and that traffickers must reflect on the grave harm they are inflicting.

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"Human dignity cannot be trampled upon in this way," the he said before a cheering crowd of 6,000 outside the Fazenda de Esperanca, or Farm of Hope, a drug treatment centre founded by a Franciscan friar.

The US State Department lists Brazil is the world's second largest consumer of cocaine after the US and big cities across Latin America's largest nation are plagued with drug violence.

While surveys show cocaine use has been relatively stable in Brazil for years, drug-related violence is a huge problem, driven by gangs that control street-corner dealing and the shipment of drugs made elsewhere in South America to Europe and the US.

In Rio de Janeiro's teeming slums, gangs recruit children and engage in near-daily shootouts between themselves and with police who frequently kill innocent bystanders.

The violence is endemic in other Latin American countries including Colombia and Caribbean nations.

In Mexico, gangs battling over billion-dollar drug smuggling routes into the US leave a daily body count from beheadings, grenade attacks and execution-style

killings.

Benedict donated $US100,000 ($A121,200) to the treatment centre and told the recovering addicts they must become "ambassadors of hope".

"The Lord has given you this opportunity for physical and spiritual recovery, so vital for you and your families," the Pope said.

"In turn, society expects you to spread this precious gift of health among your friends and all the members of the community."

The treatment centre in Guaratingueta claims an 80 per cent success rate, giving addicts spiritual guidance as they milk cows, tend apple orchards and work as beekeepers.

Addicts who listened to the Pope said his visit was important because Brazilian drug users are often treated as castaways from society – and left to beg on the streets so they can buy drugs.

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