BOGOTA, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Colombian officials in Bogota on Wednesday demolished parts of a crime-ridden neighborhood called the Bronx as part of an "urban renewal project."
Bogota's Mayor Enrique Peñalosa was present when heavy machinery brought down parts of the district where drugs, prostitution and criminals had a stronghold. In total, 66 "premises" were knocked down, according to the mayor's office, which described the Bronx as "a true epicenter of crime."
"The first building hit by the machine was called 'House of Pique' -- an old building, four stories, which was the symbol of the horror that lived on those streets, a few blocks from the Bolivar Plaza and the presidential palace," the mayor's office said in a statement.
"Here in this house, most of the criminal activity was concentrated in the Bronx. People were imprisoned and suffered all kinds of torture," Peñalosa said in a statement.
Colombian security forces in May began to clear the area of criminality. They found dozens of children who had been forced into prostitution and hundreds drug addicts. The Bogota mayor's office said 2,053 people lived in the crime-stricken area.
Officials hope to set up new hopes, shops and even government offices in the area.
"This is a message of life. This is the center of Colombia and here there must be order, security, thriving businesses, tourism -- a city where people can live well as it should be," Peñalosa said.