Narco Turf Wars Ravage Rosario, Argentina


EspañolOn November 13, Germán de los Santos, a journalist based in Rosario, Argentina, received death threats after publishing a series of articles detailing the activity of drug cartels competing for control of the city.

Gang members threatened a journalist from La Nación en Rosario.

Early Thursday morning, De los Santos received three calls that made threats against his life, describing his daily movements in detail. He filed a criminal complaint, and the Santa Fe police department has since provided him with protection.

This is not the first time drug traffickers have threatened public figures. In October 2013, narcos attacked the governor of Santa Fe, Antonio Bonfatti. Drug traffickers also threatened Security Minister Raúl Lamberto, and chased former Security Secretary Matías Drivet down a highway between Rosario and Santa Fe in September 2013.

Mauricio Macri, mayor of Buenos Aires, expressed solidarity with De los Santos: “Today we know of this because he is a journalist, but there are entire neighborhoods that are being threatened. Drug trafficking in Argentina has grown significantly. Proactive steps in the fight against drug trafficking must be taken,” Marci said in an interview with journalist Marcelo Longobardi.

I want to express my solidarity with Germán de los Santos, a journalist for La Nación, who received threats from drug traffickers for his investigations.

According to Marci, the Kirchner administration has failed to effectively contain drug trafficking in Argentina, given that Rosario is not the only city in the country that suffers from gang violence.

The Argentinean Association of Journalistic Entities (ADEPA) and the Argentinean Journalism Forum (FOPEA) have expressed concerns over the death threats made against De los Santos, and demanded law enforcement conduct a thorough investigation.

“The insecurity press workers face is something the ADEPA has been speaking out against for some time, and it has once again manifested itself recently. Once again, the issue that undermines freedom of expression is drug trafficking,” ADEPA expressed in a statement.

Rosario: Drug Traffickers Dominate the City

De los Santos has published a number of articles detailing corruption within the Rosario police force, clashes between cartels, and rising violence in the city.

De los Santos’s most recent report covered the trial of four gang members for the murder of three social workers on January 1, 2012.

The social workers were innocent bystanders in a shootout between drug cartels vying for control of the territory. Rosario police are accused of concealing information in the case by claiming the victims were gang members, when, in fact, they were innocent victims celebrating the New Year with friends.

A key trial that involves crimes and drug trafficking began in Rosario.

Citizens Fear a Wave of Violence

On October 22, a cartel hitman shot and killed former mayoral candidate Luis Bassi. Bassi was the father of an alleged gang leader who is believed to have murdered another capo, Claudio Cantero. Santa Fe authorities fear this crime has triggered a wave of revenge murders among gangs in the area.

With a month and a half to go before the end of the year, there have been 211 murders in Rosario. The 257 murders in 2013 represented a 40 percent increase from 2012. Seventy percent of the victims are men under the age of 35, and 75 percent have been killed with a firearm.

In 2012, the murder rate in Rosario (15 per every 100,000 people) was three times the national average. The Santa Fe Police Workers Union warns that this figure could reach 20 per 100,000 in 2014, the highest in the city’s history.

In an effort to combat this crime wave, former Police Chief Gerardo Chaumont took over as Secretary of Security of Santa Fe in October.

Translated by Alex Clark-Youngblood. Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.

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