HomeNewsBriefArgentina Soccer Crime Case Shows Evolution of Hooligan Groups
BRIEF

Argentina Soccer Crime Case Shows Evolution of Hooligan Groups

ARGENTINA / 1 DEC 2017 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

A new round of arrests and charges in an unfolding racketeering case in Argentina involving a criminalized soccer fan club, or “barra brava,” points to these groups’ growing sophistication and capacity for violence.

On November 30, Argentine authorities announced that they had conducted more than 30 raids on various properties connected to the barra brava of the Club Atlético Independiente, one of the top-ranked teams in Argentina’s premier soccer league.

In a press release, the Security Ministry stated that the 14 suspects arrested in the operation included the team’s vice president, Noray Nakis. Officials accused Nakis of using Independiente’s barra brava “as shock troops for his personal interest,” and said he used “his jewelry stores to launder money obtained from illegal businesses,” including ticket scalping and illicit parking services around the stadium.

Authorities also detained Roberto Petrov, who served as a bodyguard for Independiente president Hugo Moyano. According to La Nación, three police officers were injured by gunfire when attempting to detain Petrov.

The Security Ministry said that the raids came after an eight-month investigation that had previously resulted in the October 27 arrest of Pablo “Bebote” Álvarez, the leader of the Independiente barra brava. Bebote was accused of attempting to extort Ariel Holan, the team’s head coach.

InSight Crime Analysis

Specific details about the inner workings of the criminal network linked to Independiente’s barra brava have so far been sparse. Taken in context, however, several facts of the case add to mounting evidence that Argentina’s barras bravas are evolving from loosely organized hooligans into more complex criminal structures.

In addition, the fact that police were reportedly fired upon in their attempt to detain Petrov indicates the group’s willingness to confront authorities with a potentially lethal level of violence.

Furthermore, authorities say top team officials not only tolerated, but actively participated in criminal activities involving the barra brava. These types of relationships could lead crooked executives to be more willing to use violence in relation to illicit activities not usually associated with physical conflict, like ticket scalping and illicit parking schemes.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Soccer Crime

Argentina’s barras bravas have long been associated with smaller-scale criminal activities like extortion and drug dealing. But they have grown more powerful over the years thanks to protection from powerful teams that often have ties to potent political forces. (A similar dynamic has been observed in neighboring Uruguay.)

Prior to the recent operation against the Independiente barra brava, the Argentine government had taken steps to clamp down on such groups, including creating a government registry in early 2016 to attempt to track them. While these initiatives have achieved some results, they have also revealed the barras’ depth and sophistication, which will make these groups difficult to dismantle.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 9 DEC 2014

The results of the 2014 LAPOP survey show that perceptions of insecurity are on the rise in Latin America, particularly…

ARGENTINA / 30 MAY 2018

The myriad strategies used to combat organized crime need government officials to implement them and “sell” them to the public,…

ARGENTINA / 23 JUN 2015

A former government advisor has asserted that corrupt officials have allowed a Peruvian-run criminal group to flourish in Buenos…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…