Politicians in Argentina have demanded that prosecutors investigate claims there is a drug trafficking "free zone" in a province near the Triple Frontier, a well-known hub for organized crime.
A group of politicians from Chaco province filed a petition with the federal courts to investigate comments made by Vice Governor Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff in an interview with newspaper Clarin the week before.
Bacileff told Clarin that drug traffickers operated unharassed by law enforcement in wooded areas in the province's northeastern region, which, he said, is a major transit point for drug flights.
The vice governor also accused factions of the local police of involvement in drug trafficking and of forming criminal gangs, adding that he had intelligence proving that police were behind a recent bank heist in which over a quarter of a million dollars was stolen.
Bacileff accused the governor of the province, Jorge Capitanich, of doing nothing to tackle drug trafficking and of losing control of Chaco, which he said was in a state of "anarchy."
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Notably, the petition to investigate Bacileff's claims was filed by members of political opposition party the Radical Civic Union party (UCR). Given that the issue of drug trafficking has become increasingly politicized in Argentina, it is likely that the UCR legislators chose to lobby the federal courts partly for political reasons. However, this does not discredit the claims made by Bacileff, who is a member of the Peronist party that rules the province and the country.
The province of Chaco lies near the smuggling hub of the Triple Frontier, which is a major transit point for drugs smuggled out of Paraguay and into Argentina. The province is also allegedly used for the production and distribution of synthetic drugs, in operations run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel.