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A graffiti art displaying soccer players Kaka (L), Carlos Tevez (C) and Ronaldinho is pictured as a policeman takes up position after a resident was shot dead during a violent clash during an operation against drug dealers in Pavao Pavaozinho slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

(reuters_tickers)

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian authorities issued arrest warrants on Thursday for 95 police officers in Rio de Janeiro state who they say have sold arms and tipped off drug gangs to future operations, in the largest such effort yet to root out corrupt officers.

Another 90 arrest warrants were issued for suspected drug traffickers, police and state prosecutors said in an emailed statement.

By midday, about 50 people had been arrested, roughly half of them police, authorities said.

Investigators said they were targeting police who maintain ties to the powerful drug gangs that control vast swaths of metropolitan Rio de Janeiro.

Police were accused of selling powerful rifles to gang leaders and tipping them off to police actions that would be carried out in the slums the gangs control in return for bribes.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Reuters