Argentinean Ministry of Security to combat drug trafficking
By Dialogo January 31, 2014
A new presidential decree to fight drugs
The Argentinean Ministry of Security is taking over responsibility for the fight against drug trafficking authorities said.
The Secretariat for the Prevention of Drug Addiction and the Fight Against Drug Trafficking (SEDRONAR) had been in charge of the battle against drug trafficking. The transfer of responsibility was official on Jan. 17, 2014 when a government decree announcing the change was published in the Official Gazette and signed by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich and Security Minister, Maria Cecilia Rodriguez.
“It is necessary to coordinate the actions of the forces of national and provincial security to reduce the illegal trafficking of drugs and chemical precursors,” according to the decree.
Security Secretary Sergio Berni is now responsible for devising and executing strategies to fight drug trafficking. As for SEDRONAR, it will now oversee programs designed to prevent drug abuse and to help those suffering from addiction.
The changes will allow security forces to be more efficient and effective in the fight against drug trafficking, authorities said.
Cooperation among security forces is crucial
Cooperation and collaboration among security forces is crucial in the fight against drug trafficking, said Argentinian Police Commissioner Jose Efrain Marro, the former director of the Communal Police in Lobos, in the province of Buenos Aires.
“This challenge will only be achieved if joint work is done. The Municipal Police, the Federal Police, the National Gendarmerie, the Coast Guard and Port Security Forces among others will have to intervene,” Marro said.”To perform this task will require us to be up to date and to be fast to respond.”
The violence generated by drug trafficking is a great concern to law enforcement, the commissioner said. “For the past fifteen years the consumption of drugs elaborated with cocaine base has increased dramatically, which is reflected in the high crime rates that exist in Argentina today,” Marro said.
Clandestine drugs labs began to emerge in Argentina in 2010, according to published reports. Operatives for drug trafficking organizations have created larger and more sophisticated drug labs in recent years, authorities said.
Since 2012, Argentinian security forces found and dismantled two cocaine processing labs which authorities suspect produced more than 6 tons of cocaine annually. In 2013, federal forces and the Buenos Aires police seized more than 5.6 tons of cocaine.
Drug traffickers are continuing to transport cocaine to Mexico, the United States, and Europe, but they are also selling large amounts of the drug in Argentina, authorities said.
Federal, state, and local police forces will work hard to eradicate domestic drug sales, Marro said.
Police agents will be provided the best training and equipment and will “abide by all norms, laws and regulations,” said Marro, who also serves as the adjunct international director for the Organization of Police Procedures.
“These officers will have to be highly protected by the state, as well as their families, paid higher wages and insurance, in short, so that the officer has no concerns other than his work,” Marro said.
It is important that police agents assigned to the fight against drug trafficking are held to high standards, with “controls to prevent corruption and ensure discipline,” Marro said. There should be “severe punishment” for police agents who betray their oaths and break the law, Marro said. .
“These officers will have to be highly protected by the State, as well as their families, paid higher wages and insurance, in short, that the officer has no other concern than his work”, he said.
The coordination of this safety plan in Argentina is the initial stages. So far security forces or police agencies assigned to this task known as decree 48 are not defined yet. “There is no cooperation between neighboring countries and cooperation is essential”, he said.
Rising violence from drug trafficking
Argentina has experienced rising violence in recent years. Drug traffickers are responsible for much of the bloodshed, authorities said.
Much of the violence has occurred in Northern Argentina, where drug traffickers are particularly active, officials said. More than 1,000 homicides have been recorded in the region since 2005, officials said.
In 2010, for example, there were 119 homicides in the northern city of Rosario, in the department of Santa Fe. The number of killings in Rosario has increased every year since then: 170 homicides in 2011, 188 killings in 2012, and 165 homicides in 2013. At least 80 percent of the killings were related to drug trafficking, authorities said.
Drug traffickers form the primary threat to security not only in Argentina, but throughout the region, according to security analyst Jorge Corrado, Vice President of the Institute for Strategic Studies in Buenos Aires Argentina (IEBBA) and professor of international law at the Catholic University of La Plata.
“The main security threat in South America today is drug trafficking,” Corrado said. “Argentina was once a passage route for drugs from cocaine-producing countries like Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, or marijuana from Paraguay to Europe and Africa. Now, it has become an important producer and consumer.”
“The drug trade infiltrates networks of power and generates violence. Where drugs are produced, (violence) occurs,” said Corrado, who is an ex member of the Center for Strategic Studies at the Superior School of War of the Argentinean Army. “Drug trafficking is a threat to the state, therefore the state should fight drug trafficking.”
The value of strategic intelligence
In addition to cooperating with each other, security forces need to develop strategic intelligence to defeat drug traffickers, Correa said. This would include intelligence on which organized crime groups are operating in the country, who their leaders are, what alliances they have, and what regions they operate in.
“We must work together under a well-defined security plan,” he said. “We must establish a structure of criminal intelligence, thoroughly analyze transnational organized crime and use all the tools of the state.”
Increased rates of addiction
In addition to transporting large amounts of drugs, primarily cocaine, through Argentina to Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Europe, transnational criminal organizations in recent years have sold increasing amounts of drugs domestically, according to published reports.
Argentina has the highest proportion of cocaine users in Latin America, according to published reports.
Drug trafficking and domestic drug sales have had a devastating impact on Argentinian society, said Claudio Izaguirre, president of the Anti-Drug Association of Argentina (AARA). The AARA develops and provides substance abuse treatment programs.
“The tragedy of drug trafficking has deeply influenced our society,” Izaguirre said.
At least six transnational criminal organizations produce drugs in Argentina or transport them through the country, law enforcement officials.
For example, a Bolivian organized crime group in the Liniers neighborhood produces powder cocaine and crack. A Colombian drug cartel uses Argentinian ports to transport cocaine by boat to Europe. Dominican organized crime groups sell powder cocaine and crack on the streets of Argentina.
Argentina needs more drug prevention and treatment programs to help addicts and people who might be tempted to use drugs, Izaguirre said. “Addicts and their families are clearly vulnerable,” he said.
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