Top Story — Argentina is fast becoming a major transit route and base of operations in the global drug trade, according to authorities.
The quantity of cocaine and other drugs seized in Argentina has been rising steadily since 2010. In 2013 alone, 6.1 tons of cocaine were confiscated, according to sources. Drugs seized abroad and in ships travelling to and from Argentine ports also point to an increase in the quantity of drugs passing through the country.
The United States government’s focus on fighting the drug trade in Central American countries such as Mexico has prompted a move to the south by major drug traffickers, who are attracted to Argentina’s large ports, which they use to export drugs to the U.S. and Europe. The country’s porous northern and western borders also facilitate traffic from neighboring Bolivia and Peru.
Criminals are also attracted to Argentina’s relatively lax drug laws, compared to those of neighboring countries.
The Argentine government has not released official statistics on its drug trade. Experts spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Along with the fact that more drugs are moving through Argentina’s borders on their way to foreign markets, experts worry about an increase in the production and consumption of drugs within the country’s borders. According to Sandra Arroyo, a judge, the country is “no longer just as a strategic route for drug smuggling and money laundering activities, but also for several stages of drug manufacture… preparation and conditioning of significantly sized shipments.” Arroyo played an integral role last April in a major drug bust in one of Buenos Aires’ most secure ports.
The rise of Argentina’s drug trade has been accompanied by an increase in homicides in towns along the new trafficking routes. The homicide rate in the city of Rosario, for instance, was of 27 for each 100,000 inhabitants last year, nearly double the rate in 2012 and four times that of the capital.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Food company Nestle apologized for an unauthorized tweet sent from its account late Sunday that made an offensive pun regarding the 43 missing students from Guerrero state.
- The Daily Beast looks at the “Hercules Group,” the semi-official SWAT team which has been blamed for the death of three American siblings just across the border from Texas last month.
- NACLA investigates how Cuba’s new economic reforms are disadvantageous to the country’s large retired population, who are losing social benefits without benefitting from new economic opportunities.
- The New York Times Editorial Board advises the U.S. government to end its efforts to promote regime change in Cuba, following an editorial last month calling for an end to the economic blockade.
- Costa Rican officials announced the seizure of over 23 metric tons of cocaine so far this year, more than any other country in Central America.
- InSight Crime looks at plans in Honduras to revamp the prison system, nothing that reform efforts will be hampered without accompanying changes to the judicial system.
- A Peruvian journalist who had been investigating gang killings and extortion was shot and killed by two gunmen late Sunday night, although the motive for the killing unclear.
- The Guardian investigates how continued violence in Colombia affects rural landowners and how the UK could help Colombians in their fight for land restitution.
- Seven FARC rebels have been convicted and sentenced by an indigenous court for shooting two Nasa tribe leaders.
- At least 38 people have been killed and 18,000 displaced displaced by heavy rains and associated flooding and landslides.
- Police in Brazil are still searching for the driver of a car that drove into a group of churchgoers on the sidewalk late Sunday night, injuring 15 people.
- The Scientfic American explores how industrial farming has invaded the previously isolated “Cerrado” region of Brazil, potentially jeopardizing its biologically diverse savannah.
- Paraguay’s ruling party will launch an investigation into 40 of its leaders as it faces increased scrutiny for ties to drug trafficking.