Argentina's most recent homicide statistics show that murders have been on the rise since 2010, a phenomenon likely linked to the country's increasing role in the drug trade.
According to Argentina's Ministry of Health, homicides rose by 16 percent between 2012 and 2013, increasing from 2,888 murders to 3,352, reported La Nacion. This translates to a homicide rate of 8.8 per 100,000, nearly double that of neighboring Chile.
The upsurge has been driven mainly by the provinces of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe, where the Ministry of Health registered 1,556 and 421 murders, respectively, in 2013. Along with the southern province of Chubut, Santa Fe also had the highest homicide rate -- 13.2 per 100,000 inhabitants.
In addition, partial provincial homicide figures from 2014 show a continuation of the rising trend, indicating that murders have been steadily increasing in Argentina for the past four years.
The head of Argentina's Public Policy Association, which analyzed the homicide figures, stated that drug trafficking disputes and an increase in robberies are two possible explanations for the rise in murders.
InSight Crime Analysis
Although Argentina's homicide rate is still well below that of many other Latin American countries, the 2013 statistics provide a troubling indication that the country's increasing role in the drug trade has been accompanied by an increase in violence.
In recent years, Argentina has become an important transit nation for drug shipments and an attractive destination for foreign criminal groups. In addition, Argentina's domestic drug trade appears to be growing, leading to the rise of local criminal groups and sparking battles over micro-trafficking territory. All of these issues are factors that have been linked to rising homicides in other parts of Latin America as well.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Homicides
Nowhere has this transformation been more evident than in the province of Santa Fe, home to a major highway that serves as the country's principal cocaine trafficking route. In both of the province's major cities, Rosario and capital Santa Fe, homicide rates have reached record levels in recent years as local drug gangs like Los Monos fight over territory.
In addition to rising homicides, Argentina has also seen an increase in other types of crime including kidnappings. Earlier this year, Argentina's deteriorating security situation even prompted concern from Pope Francis, who made a controversial comment comparing problems in his home country to Mexico's drug war.