Ten police stations in Rosario, Argentina have been raided as part of a drug trafficking investigation, once again spotlighting the city's status as a growing hub of organized crime and corruption.
Following an order from the Federal Justice department, the police stations -- including an anti-narcotics office -- were searched on May 8 for "documents of interest" regarding a recent operation against a local drug trafficking group, reported Clarin.
No arrests were made during the raids, and the secretary for Complex Crimes in Santa Fe Ana Viglione did not comment on whether there were confirmed police links with the criminal gang but stated that this would be determined by the evidence collected.
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The raids followed the arrests of 29 members of a Rosario drug trafficking group with alleged ties to international traffickers in neighboring countries. That weekend it was discovered a prisoner within the police headquarters of Rosario was working as an intermediary between the gang and their drug suppliers.
According to official statistics, since Rosario launched its new specialist Homicide Unit on February 10, there have been 74 murders, 31 of which had a definite or possible link to drug trafficking, reported Clarin. In 2013, the city saw a record of 264 registered -- a 76 percent rise from the previous year. This gave the city a murder rate of 22 per 100,000 people -- marking a fourfold increase since 2010.
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As Argentina's role in the international narcotics trade continues to evolve, Rosario's strategic geographic location at the end of the Ruta 34 highway -- down which cocaine enters Argentina from Bolivia -- has contributed to it becoming a cornerstone for local organized crime.
Official corruption has been a key factor in facilitating the expansion of local criminal groups, with an emblematic case in February 2014 seeing the arrest of 13 police officers as part of an operation that took down 35 members of Los Monos -- one of Rosario's principal and most sophisticated gangs. In another case, the police chief of Santa Fe -- the province where Rosario is located -- has been charged with offences connected to drug trafficking.
The recent arrests and raids on police stations, as well as the continued high murder rate shows Los Monos were far from the only group operating in Rosario, and that uprooting one gang and their corrupt contacts will not be sufficient to halt its decline in security.