The deaths of 20 people from adulterated cocaine is just the tip of the iceberg of the great social crisis facing Argentina.
High rates of poverty, a fragile economy and prevailing insecurity complete the vicious circle that fuels the drug trafficking business in this country in the southern cone.
In response to this tragic event, the Police of the province of Buenos Aires has deployed hundreds of troops in the popular neighborhoods of Puerta 8 and Villa Samiento. They confiscated 15,000 envelopes of contaminated and highly toxic drugs, and arrested several people.
“We ask for justice because they raided my house and the same police officers planted drugs. They arrested my brother, who is a minor, they took my sister, who is 19 years old, and my father, and nobody wants to give us an answer. They [las autoridades] they kick us out wherever we go with questions. They themselves put the drug. Go and catch the real dealers; why do they arrest working people? My father is an upholsterer. They are all workers,” said a protester from Puerta 8.
The inhabitants of this precarious area came out to protest denouncing the arbitrary arrests of their relatives. The residents of Puerta 8 are not used to this type of police operation, but they are used to the violence of the criminal gangs that handle drugs. They accuse the government of turning a blind eye for years and of having left them to their fate.
The gangs recruit the youngest, even minors who are called “little soldiers” in this war for drug control.
Sociologist Alberto Calabrese, an addiction expert, told AFP that the underreporting of illegal drug use in the country “is very large” and that “in conditions of poverty and lack of horizons, it is very likely that consumption of what be”.
“You don’t have to put the problem in terms of poverty exclusively, because it is wrong, it permeates society, with legal and illegal drugs. People feel that they are no longer transgressing,” Calabrese said.
The Argentine government promised to strengthen its fight against drug trafficking and addictions. Regarding the adulterated cocaine, he estimates that the mixture contains opioids. So far there are 30 intoxicated people in the hospital.
“Graphically we still cannot determine what the component is, indirectly we know that it is an opioid, because we know that it is an opioid? Because an antidote is applied to it, to cure the opioid, and it reacts favorably,” said Sergio Berni, Minister of Security of the Buenos Aires province.
The Argentine drug business in figures
According to Berni’s calculations, in the province of Buenos Aires, where around 40% of the total population lives, some 250,000 doses of cocaine are sold per day.
Argentina joined international drug trafficking routes in the 1970s. Already in the mid-1980s, half a ton of cocaine was seized a year and a decade later, four times more, according to official records.
In 2020, in a pandemic, the consumption of illegal drugs fell and 2.7 tons of cocaine and 198 tons of marijuana were seized. In 2017, a record 12.1 tons of cocaine had been seized.
Rosario, 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires, the third most populous city in the country, has been suffering for a couple of years from drug trafficking and the violence it generates.
Last year, the city registered 231 homicides linked to drug trafficking and dozens of shootings against public and private buildings for extortion purposes, the public news agency Télam reported.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.