HomeNewsBriefArgentina Property Theft Ring Indicates State Weakness
BRIEF

Argentina Property Theft Ring Indicates State Weakness

ARGENTINA / 16 JAN 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

The recovery of one million dollars of art stolen by property thieves from a deceased artist in Argentina provides one illustration of a blossoming regional crime facilitated by state weakness and corruption.

The 2,400 paintings were found hidden in a storehouse behind a false wall by police in Lomas de Zamora, in the state of Buenos Aires. They had been painted by and belonged to Nelia Licenziato, who died in 2006, reported Clarin. According to police, all of the artwork had been obtained fraudulently.

The find was part of an ongoing case, in which a criminal group dedicated to property theft is accused of stealing three of Licenziato’s properties and the paintings inside them. A well-known local real estate agent and a lawyer stand accused of involvement in the crimes and other similar cases, reported La Nacion.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

They allegedly belong to what La Nacion has referred to as a group of “VIP usurpers” — dismantled by Argentine authorities in May 2013 — that was dedicated to taking properties of deceased people by falsifying papers, including identity documents and wills.

A lawyer working on behalf of Licenziato’s cousins — the rightful heirs to her property — said, “We’re facing an organization dedicated to usurping properties through a sophisticated system of adulterating documentation.”

InSight Crime Analysis

The involvement of a prominent real estate agent and a lawyer indicates the group was well-connected. According to the US State Department, a culture of impunity, coupled with corruption and a lack of law enforcement, makes Argentina “ripe” for organized crime. This is also a perfect environment for property theft networks to flourish.

Property theft is a crime that has also affected other countries in the region. Most notable is Colombia, where there have been numerous cases of criminal groups illegally seizing land titles from peasants. It is also a growing problem in Guatemala, where at least 1,400 cases were recorded in 2013, and a criminal group linked to 1,000 reports of property theft was recently dismantled. 

The proliferation of crimes like this points to deep-seated corruption and a weak state. The Guatemalan ring operated with the help of corrupt public sector employees, while officials in Colombia have also been implicated in the crime. 

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.

Tags

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 20 SEP 2016

A new report sheds light on the phenomenon of human trafficking involving Chinese citizens in Argentina, highlighting some of the…

ARGENTINA / 4 FEB 2016

A recent report on Argentina's drug market highlights rising violence, addiction, and perceptions of insecurity in areas of the country…

ARGENTINA / 24 APR 2019

A remote stretch of forest in the north of Argentina was used to conceal a marijuana plantation, pointing to new…

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…