HomeNewsAnalysisPolice Corruption Blamed as Bodies Pile Up in Rosario, Argentina
ANALYSIS

Police Corruption Blamed as Bodies Pile Up in Rosario, Argentina

ARGENTINA / 10 MAR 2020 BY JOSEFINA SALOMÓN EN

A wave of violent murders in Argentina's strategically located city of Rosario has exposed a deeply fragmented criminal landscape and the urgent need for deep reforms to tackle police corruption.

Since the start of 2020, over 50 people have been violently murdered in Rosario, according to official figures reported by Clarín. This is particularly noteworthy since the homicide rate in Argentina as a whole is among the lowest in Latin America.

While street crime is behind some of the murders, many are believed to be the result of drug trafficking organizations fighting for control of the expanding local market, Telam reported.

Among those killed were Agustina Thomson, a young woman with a drug trafficking record who was shot three times in the chest, Dora Ercilia Quiroga, a mother of six who was caught up in the crossfire of a confrontation between two drug trafficking gangs, and Ángel Adrián Avaca, the son of a former police officer convicted of colluding with Los Monos, one of the most influential crime organizations in the country.

One of the most talked-about incidents took place on February 17, when Cristopher Albornoz, the son of Miguel Ángel Albornoz, alias "Caracú," a convicted drug trafficker, was shot dead while riding a motorcycle. Cristopher’s partner and one-year-old daughter were also killed in the incident, La Nación reported.

SEE ALSO: Argentina News and Profiles

Germán Montenegro, Security Secretary of the province of Santa Fe, told Telam that the violence is directly related to the "emergence of second or third-level leaders" of crime organizations after their bosses were put behind bars or “new groups that are fighting over control of the territory.”

Rosario's strategic location is a tactical stop for drug traffickers, situated along the route from Bolivia and Paraguay to the capital Buenos Aires, home to a large consumer market.

Over time, an internal consumer market has also developed in the city. Since the leaders of Los Monos were jailed on drug trafficking charges in 2018, a number of groups large and small have been fighting to control it, often using deadly violence and colluding with local police.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although violence is not uncommon in Rosario, the recent spike in murders has revealed a power vacuum that many are trying to fill.

For decades, local drug trafficking organizations co-existed in the city, each controlling a specific market, often working side by side with local police.

But the killing of a prominent drug trafficker in 2013 kickstarted a bloody fight between two clans that ended with dozens of criminals and police officers who worked with them, behind bars.

The purge of the police didn’t stop there.

In May 2019, the chief of federal police in Santa Fe and five other officers were arrested on drug trafficking charges after investigators found nearly 100 bags of cocaine, confiscated from a local drug dealer, in their offices as well as large sums of cash in their homes.

Experts consulted by InSight Crime say the recent convictions of high profile criminals and the ongoing purge in the police has left a power vacuum which has become fertile ground for violence.

“The confrontations today are led by the ‘middle managers’ because the leaders are behind bars. These don’t have links with the new police officers who replaced the old ones after the purge. Without the police, organized crime cannot function. The police provide them with information, logistics and a certain sophistication that these local groups don’t have,” Germán de los Santos, a journalist and investigator told InSight Crime.

On the other hand, police officers face work conditions that make them easy targets for criminal groups willing to offer them easy cash to look the other way or participate in drug trafficking.

The result of this process is that both the authorities and criminal organizations are effectively competing for the attention of police officers, who are likely to side with whoever can give them what they need.

De Los Santos said that local organizations take advantage of that chaos to “try and control new territory, using violence”.

SEE ALSO: 3 Reasons Why Argentina Has Failed to Bring Down Violence in Rosario

Local authorities say they are working to reform the police.

“We have developed a plan that will be reflected in a series of bills aiming to restructure the police into a professional force, with an independent investigations unit, and an external body to control corruption within the force,” Germán Montenegro, security secretary for the province of Santa Fe said in an interview with Telam.

At the national level, Argentina’s Security Minister Sabina Frederic has also emphasized the need for deep reform of the security forces, including recruiting more police officers and investing increased resources into criminal investigations.

While there’s an undeniable need to restructure police forces, tackling entrenched and historical police corruption will require a long-term commitment from present and future administrations, an ask that has proven challenging in Argentina.

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

COVID AND CRIME / 6 MAY 2020

Mexico's tourism hotspots were already seeing visitor numbers drop due to the impact of violent crime, and with the coronavirus…

HOMICIDES / 9 FEB 2018

Mexico enters the 2018 presidential campaign on the heels of the most violent year in its recent history. But notwithstanding…

ARGENTINA / 11 DEC 2018

A violent attack on a courthouse days after the sentencing of 34 members of Argentina’s most notorious drug trafficking organization…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…