In June 2015, a former advisor to Argentina’s Security Ministry, Jorge Rodriguez, warned of the increasing presence of Peruvian-run criminal groups in greater Buenos Aires. He believes that there are at least 12 cocaine-processing laboratories in the city, each generating an approximate daily profit of US $1,200,000. These operations, he said, could not be possible without the support of government officials.
Argentina is increasingly being targetted by traffickers looking for new smuggling routes. There are several facilitating factors: long and porous borders and the arrival of international criminal organisations, particularly from nearby Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, with their skill sets and technical expertise.
According to Rodriguez some law enforcement officers are tempted by the large amounts of money involved in drug trafficking next to their comparatively paltry salaries. Smugglers also employ violence or the threat thereof, before urging police officers to consider ‘alternative agreements’.
With the Argentinean government taking a severe line against all cases of law enforcement corruption, several members of the security forces have been accused of involvement in trafficking, namely in the neighbouring provinces of Cordoba and Santa Fe. One of the most notorious cases was the arrest of the former director of the Secretariat for Programming the Prevention of Drug Addiction and Fight Against Narcotrafficking (SEDRONAR), José Ramon Granero, accused of trafficking ephedrine in 2014.
The implications for the Cocaine Route Programme are profound, as SEDRONAR was a key partner in the PRELAC project. It means that support for such organisations that are vulnerable to attack by organised crime has to be sustained and continuous. International cooperation in this field has to go beyond the network of individuals to establish genuine inter-institutional partnerships. For that to work in practice, programmes should make long term commitments that run for longer than the two to four year cycle that is the norm in other areas of development cooperation.