A federal judge in Argentina has criticized the effectiveness of federal police in the fight against drug trafficking in Buenos Aires, in a move that could exacerbate widespread fears that violence in the country is rising.
Speaking at a press conference on February 25, judge Claudio Bonadio said that while the federal police previously engaged in intelligence gathering to detect drug trafficking, “as of several years ago that tradition disappeared.” According to Bonadio, “there is a political decision to end this line of investigation.”
According to Infobae, of the 2,890 drug related cases in Buenos Aires that went through federal courts between January 2014 and July 2014, federal police were involved in 2,554 cases, compared to 128 involving the metropolitan police.
Yet even though federal police are involved in more cases, Bonadio said the metropolitan police have seized more drugs in the first two months of 2015 and do the kind of investigative work necessary to prosecute larger cases, Sera Justicia reported.
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Bonadio’s criticisms come at a time of increased scrutiny for President Cristina Kirchner. The government has been dealing with the fallout of a scandal involving the mysterious death of state prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, who was investigating high-level officials in the Kirchner administration.
In a recent letter to a Buenos Aires politician, Pope Francis wrote he was worried about the “Mexicanization” of Argentina — whereby its growing role in the transnational drug trade would lead to a spike in violence.
While the Vatican has backtracked and apologized to the Mexican government over the Pope’s statement, his concerns are not entirely unfounded. Overall homicide rates are low — the most recent numbers put it at 5.5 per 100,000 — but violence is high in areas with a larger role in the drug trade.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina
In Rosario, a city where the Sinaloa Cartel and Colombian groups have reportedly taken root, the homicide rate doubled from 10 to 20.8 between 2010 and 2014, which was similar to the more violent parts of Buenos Aires, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.
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