HomeNewsBriefCop’s Killing, Drug Dispute Spotlight Argentina Police Corruption
BRIEF

Cop’s Killing, Drug Dispute Spotlight Argentina Police Corruption

ARGENTINA / 16 AUG 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

The suspicious death of a police officer and a recent confrontation between border guards and allegedly crooked cops are adding to long-standing concerns about corruption in Argentina’s provincial police forces.

On August 10, Argentine authorities discovered the body of Lucas Muñoz, a provincial police officer who had been serving in the town San Carlos de Bariloche in Rio Negro province, near the border with Chile.

According to anonymous sources close to the investigation cited by La Nación, Muñoz was killed by fellow police officers because he had discovered evidence of their involvement in drug and human trafficking as well as accepting bribes to destroy evidence in murder cases.

The sources told La Nación that Muñoz had been tortured on police property before his death, though it remains unclear whether the beating Muñoz suffered was intended to make him reveal what he knew or to attempt to coerce him into helping cover up the other officers’ alleged misdeeds.

Muñoz had been missing for nearly a month before his body was found, just a few hours after the governor of Rio Negro met with top-ranking local police officials.

One source told La Nación that “the heads of several commissioners are going to roll” when the results of investigations of the incident carried out by the National Gendarmerie are made public in the coming days.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

A week earlier, near the border with Bolivia in the town of Acambuco in San Martín province, a group of National Gendarmerie officers got into an altercation with a group of suspected drug smugglers that reportedly included members of the local provincial police.

According to a National Gendarmerie commander who spoke to El Tribuno, the gendarmes stopped a pair of trucks to conduct an inspection and found evidence of cocaine trafficking. When one of the gendarmes went to call for back up, the suspected traffickers accosted him.

El Tribuno reports that the suspected traffickers severely beat one of the gendarmes and took another hostage, whom they soon released, absconding with an estimated 600 kilograms of cocaine.

InSight Crime Analysis

These recent events serve as a reminder that police corruption remains a serious problem in Argentina, despite the country’s reputation as one of Latin America’s safer nations. The incidents also highlight how a variety of factors, including failed past reform efforts (pdf), make Argentina’s provincial police particularly susceptible to corruption.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Police Reform

Argentina has long struggled with corruption in its provincial police forces. In 2004, a source who had worked with the Buenos Aires provincial police described the force to the New York Times as “a mafia in uniform.” A decade later, journalists Alejandra S. Inzunza and Pablo Ferri used that same term to describe the “bonaerense” in an article detailing corruption and brutality in the force. And in October 2015, the former chief of Santa Fe’s provincial police was handed a six-year jail sentence for collaborating with drug traffickers.

As Argentina’s organized crime landscape continues to evolve, it will be particularly important for the country to address corruption within its security forces -- an issue that has contributed to the growth and persistence of criminal organizations across the Americas.

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 / 20 JUL 2016

Argentina will reinstate security attachés at its embassies in a number of countries, further confirming the government’s efforts…

ARGENTINA / 2 MAY 2017

Microtrafficking is on the rise in Argentina, according to a new report. New trends are impacting the trafficking landscape, but…

MEXICO / 27 MAY 2020

Two municipal police officers, Omar Nieves and Noemí Esperanza, were on routine patrol, sitting in traffic in broad daylight on…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.