HomeNewsBriefUruguay Tries to Make Sense of Repeated Attacks on Police
BRIEF

Uruguay Tries to Make Sense of Repeated Attacks on Police

SECURITY POLICY / 13 MAR 2020 BY MARIA ALEJANDRA NAVARRETE EN

An increasing number of attacks on police in Uruguay shows that a growing organized crime threat may soon tarnish the reputation of what has long been one of the safest countries in the region. 

In February, Uruguay’s Interior Ministry published a report revealing that 78 police officials across the country were assaulted, with two being killed, during the first five weeks of 2020. 

According to the government data, 25 of the attacks were violent robberies, and 10 of them led to the officers’ firearms being stolen. 

Police have three possible theories about the motives behind these robberies, El Observador reported, quoting police chief Mario Layera.

SEE ALSO: Uruguay News and Profile

The first is that gangs have begun paying members to assault agents in an effort to steal their weapons and other police gear, including bulletproof vests, uniforms and even electronic equipment from the ministry of the interior.

Another theory is that these weapons are being moved to Brazil, where the demand for illegal arms is high. 

Finally, Layera said the increase in weapons theft may be coming after the country increased its weapons seizures in 2019, leading to gangs needing to restock their arsenals, a theory which has also been put forward by former Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Uruguay has experienced a shocking rise in violence of late, including a 45 percent spike in homicides in 2018, and these latest targeted attacks on police suggest perpetrators can act with increasing impunity.  

Police chief Mario Layera has said that while attacks on officers and theft of their weapons are not new, police response times and seizures of drugs and weapons from local gangs has followed suit. If true, this would add credence to the hypothesis that weapons theft has increased because the gangs have lost weaponry during police operations.

Meanwhile, Uruguay has long been seen as one of the few South American countries to not be plagued by extreme violence and the drug trade. Yet it is increasingly an exit point for drugs to Europe, and there is recent evidence of its armed forces colluding with gangs.

SEE ALSO: Uruguay Navy Officers in Worrying Link to Drug Trafficking

Security was a major topic during the country’s 2019 presidential campaign, including a national referendum on a security package that would have deployed the military into the streets and increased prison sentences for certain crimes. The referendum was not approved when it did not receive a majority of votes to pass, but around 47 percent of voters were in favor.

New president Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou, who took office on March 1, has taken this public support for increased security to announce new measures, including more police patrols in dangerous neighborhoods and a crackdown on crime inside prisons and drug trafficking.

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

HONDURAS / 5 MAR 2016

The US State Department's newest drug report states that the majority of cocaine that enters the US first moves through…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 14 DEC 2015

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto has put forth two new initiatives aimed at combating kidnapping and torture, but local…

ARGENTINA / 10 DEC 2019

Four years after coming to power, Argentina’s Mauricio Macri is leaving the presidential office with a mixed review on security…

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…