Authorities in Argentina have arrested the head of the Cordoba province antinarcotics police for alleged drug ties, in one example of the widespread police corruption affecting this Southern Cone nation.
Amid a brewing scandal, members of the Airport Security Police (PSA) arrested anti-drug chief Rafael Gustavo Sosa in his home on September 11. Four other members of his unit turned themselves in later that night, reported Clarin.
A week prior to the arrests, a police informant arrested in July accused Sosa and five other anti-drug police on public television of protecting and colluding with drug traffickers, though the investigation into these allegations began a month earlier, reported La Nacion (see video below). One of the officials mentioned in the video was subsequently found dead in his car, and is believed to have committed suicide.
Sosa’s arrest provoked a strong political reaction from officials of the Justicialist Party (PJ), who claimed the prosecutor who ordered the preceding raids was trying to discredit the police and was himself working for drug traffickers.
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The arrests that followed Channel 10’s interview with the police informant appear to be related to a wider scandal. In a video put out in July by the same channel, various anti-drug police officers from Mina Clavero, Cordoba, reported a fellow inspector was working with a drug trafficking family known as “Los Hoyos.”
This same inspector, Gaston Bustos, is mentioned in another Channel 10 video secretly taken of a self-proclaimed drug trafficker and police informant discussing his dealings with police, who said they resold seized drugs and paid off informants with drugs. According to Channel 10, this drug trafficker linked Viarnes with Sosa in the video.
Police corruption has long been a serious problem throughout Argentina, and attempts to reform the force have seen little success. Buenos Aires is particularly affected, with over 13,000 investigated in the province in from 2008 to 2009 for corruption, irregularities and abuses. Argentine corruption is not limited to the police — the current president is herself embroiled in a highly politicized money laundering scandal involving her late husband.
The Cordoba province is one of Argentina’s major drug hubs, home to one of the cities served by the country’s infamous “Ruta 34,” the little-monitored highway stretching down from Bolivia that is used to traffic cocaine to Argentina’s major cities.
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