HomeNewsAnalysisProsecutors Alarmed Over Argentina's Growing Drug Trade
ANALYSIS

Prosecutors Alarmed Over Argentina's Growing Drug Trade

ARGENTINA / 7 AUG 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Judicial officials in Argentina are sounding the alarm over the spread of drug trafficking and organized crime in the country, a rare admission from authorities of the country's growing role in nearly every aspect of the drug trade. 

In a new report (pdf) by Argentina’s Attorney General’s Office, federal and regional prosecutors expressed their growing concern over the proliferation of drug trafficking activity throughout the country.

Mario Sabas Herrera, Attorney General of the central city General Roca, declared, “The Argentine Republic lives with a criminal business that produces massive incomes: drug trafficking.” Sabas Herrera went on to warn,  “This phenomenon has been gradually penetrating our society...surprising by its speed, to the point that today it controls the lives of the inhabitants of many neighborhoods."

Pablo Di Loreto, a federal prosecutor in the northern city of Posadas, found that  “seizures of numerous cocaine or coca base shipments during the past year from Paraguay” have been particularly alarming. The concern, in part, owes to the smuggling routes being used, which have traditionally been used for marijuana, not cocaine trafficking.

Loreto also highlighted the presence of “better organized criminal structures that divide labor and criminal tasks,” with different groups buying, transporting, preparing, and selling drugs. This complicates investigations due to the number of groups involved at each step in the drug trafficking chain, the report notes.

Federal prosecutor Juan Carlos Tesoriero also drew attention to a “notable increase” in cocaine trafficking in Posadas, which has resulted in “the multiplication of drug-sale points in cities and towns in [Argentina's] interior.”

Likewise, Eduardo Villalba, an Attorney General in the northwest province of Salta, said a rise in drug-related crimes has been “notable” in comparison with previous years, and that micro-trafficking operations have rapidly increased. Salta is a key entry point into Argentina for cocaine shipments coming from Bolivia, according to the report.

Similarly, Enrique Senestrari, a federal prosecutor from Cordoba, referred to an increase in the number of “drug kitchens,” with another prosecutor also noting that drug production “has proliferated” in the province of Mendoza.

InSight Crime Analysis

The recognition by top judicial authorities of Argentina's growing drug problem highlights the extent and seriousness of the issue -- which some government officials have previously been reluctant to acknowledge or admit. Even Pope Francis -- who is Argentine -- has grown worried about the potential "Mexicanization" of Argentina, which has become an increasingly important drug consumer, transit, and even producer nation.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

It is no coincidence Argentina is experiencing growth in several different aspects of the drug trade at the same time; these trends are often linked and can in fact create a snow-ball effect. For example, the country's growing role as a transit nation for international markets such as Europe has likely increased its own domestic demand for illicit drugs.

The growth of local drug markets has in turn led to an increased number of criminal groups dedicated to micro-trafficking, with the Monos in the city of Rosario serving as the most prominent example of this phenomenon. As a result, drug-related violence has risen as competing criminal groups battle for territorial control.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Microtrafficking

Foreign drug trafficking organizations have also moved into Argentina, which is seen by some as a safe haven compared to the security pressures applied to organized crime groups in Colombia or Mexico. The presence of these transnational criminal networks has expedited Argentina’s rising importance in the drug trade, and there is evidence groups such as Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel have contributed to growing corruption within the country's police forces.

Despite the dire warning signs, until now government officials -- either for lack of will or resources -- have been slow to tackle these drug-related issues. The report by the Attorney General's Office is a clarion call to action -- but it remains to be seen if authorities will take the necessary steps to reverse course.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 4 NOV 2011

An Argentine court has sentenced a former Colombian beauty queen to six years and eight months in prison…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 11 AUG 2020

The US indictment of an MS13 leader in El Salvador chronicles the latest failure of the infamous street gang to…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 21 JUL 2020

Last week, with great fanfare, the US government for the first time levied terrorism charges against a little known MS13…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.