A plot to kill a judge in Argentina overseeing dozens of cases against members of criminal group "Los Monos" has been uncovered, in a sign of the increasing power and reach of local organized crime.
The conspiracy, which also involved the planned murder of a prosecutor working alongside Judge Juan Carlos Vienna, was uncovered after police recorded a series of phone calls between a convicted murderer and a corrupt police officer, who had been detained for aiding the January jailbreak of a presumed Monos hitman, reported Infobae.
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At the time of the calls, judicial police officer German Almiron was being held in a detention facility at the police headquarters in Rosario, while convict Cesar Aron Treves, alias "Ojudo," was in Coronda prison, outside the city but in the same province of Santa Fe.
The two reportedly discussed the murder of Vienna, who is currently overseeing the prosecution of 36 members of the Rosario-based criminal group, which has contributed to a prolonged spate of drug-related killings in the area.
InSight Crime Analysis
The targeting of high-level judicial figures is yet another sign of the increasing sophistication of Argentine organized crime, of which Los Monos are the most prominent example. Rosario has been at the center of these developments, and the city's drug gangs have been noted to be employing methods traditionally associated with large scale criminal organizations, such as the intimidation of journalists, the use of motorcycle-riding assassins, and developing corrupt contacts in the security forces.
Local groups also appear to have been expanding beyond simply controlling domestic drug sales and are now developing their own international supply lines and even becoming involved in drug production.
This is not the first time that notable public figures have been targeted by Rosario's underworld. In October 2013, 14 shots were fired at the house of Governor of Santa Fe Antonio Bonfatti. March 2014 also saw the Security Minister Raul Lamberto and the regional Security Secretary Matias Drivet receive threats during investigations into drug trafficking in Rosario.