HomeNewsBriefArgentina Mayor, Police Chief Arrested in Drug Raid of Border Town
BRIEF

Argentina Mayor, Police Chief Arrested in Drug Raid of Border Town

ARGENTINA / 16 MAR 2017 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

The latest drug raid in a border town in Argentina resulted in the arrest of the mayor and several other top municipal officials, uncovering a level of corruption rarely seen in this Southern Cone nation. 

On March 14, 600 members of Argentina's gendarmerie descended upon the town of Itatí, arresting mayor Natividad "Roger" Terán, his top deputy and a local police chief, reported La Nación. Authorities say the officials abused their posts to help move drug shipments through the northern border town, which has long been considered a gateway for marijuana coming from Paraguay.

"The mayor Terán, vice mayor [Fabio] Aquino and the commissioner [Diego] Ocampo Alvarenga, used their positions to facilitate and protect the trafficking of marijuana," a source close to the case told La Nación.

The operation led to a total of 21 arrests, including several other police officials, and authorities are seeking the arrest of 14 other suspects. 

Two witnesses testified that the drug network moved up to six tons of marijuana through Itatí per week, reported Clarín. They also testified that the mayor and the vice mayor were directly involved in acquiring and distributing the marijuana, as well as laundering the illicit proceeds. 

In February, authorities arrested the vice mayor's brother along with four other suspects and seized over 500 kilos of cannabis. The mayor's daughter had been arrested earlier that month, prompting Security Minister Patricia Bullrich to declare, "Itatí was run by narco-politics."

InSight Crime Analysis

The raid in Itatí exemplifies a pattern seen throughout Latin America of mayors increasingly facilitating or directly involved in organized crime activity. But while corruption in city hall appears to be on the rise in countries like Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico, until now there has been little evidence of this phenomenon in Argentina. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

The question now becomes whether the Itatí case is an outlier or points to deeper shifts in Argentina's criminal dynamics. On the one hand, Itatí's location made it a logical entry point for Paraguayan marijuana, suggesting the level of criminal penetration in the municipal offices was partly determined by the town's geography. 

On the other, however, judicial officials and the public have expressed concern about the growth of drug trafficking in the country, and President Mauricio Macri has responded by militarizing the fight against organized crime. Even Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, has warned about the potential "Mexicanization" of the country's criminal landscape. 

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 / 11 JUL 2013

Serious failings in inspections at Argentina's ports and airports are facilitating the flow of illegal drugs, says the country's inspector…

EL SALVADOR / 9 DEC 2021

In what appears to be a shot at El Salvador President Nayib Bukele’s administration, the United States has imposed sanctions…

BRAZIL / 2 JAN 2018

Welcome to InSight Crime’s GameChangers 2017, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas over…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

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…