Arrest of Publicist’s Brother Gets Argentina Talking Organized Crime

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The arrest of the brother of a prominent public figure on drug charges has sparked a media furor in Argentina, placing the issue of drug trafficking and organized crime at the top of the public agenda.

Police in Argentina have arrested seven people for attempting to traffic cocaine to Europe and for producing and distributing ecstasy in Buenos Aires, among them the brother of famous Argentine publicist Gabriel “Gaby” Alvarez, reported Diario La Prensa.

Ariel Alvarez, Gaby’s brother, was allegedly responsible for marketing ecstasy at raves and to wealthy clients in the northern neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

In addition to making and selling ecstasy, the group also intended to smuggle cocaine to Spain hidden in skis, reported Clarin.

During the operation, authorities confiscated 24 kilos of cocaine and over 1,000 ecstasy pills, with material to produce 30,000 more.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrest of a family member of a prominent public figure in Argentina has turned the media spotlight onto a problem that is escalating quickly — the ever growing presence of drug trafficking in Argentina and the evolution of both transnational and domestic organized crime within the country.

The ring in which Alvarez worked was a perfect example of this process in Argentina, involving both manufacturing and sale of synthetic drugs for the domestic market — which has grown rapidly in recent years — and the use of Argentina as a transit point for cocaine destined for Europe.  

The case also follows on the heels of a widely reported hitman style murder of a Colombian with alleged drug ties in broad daylight in Buenos Aires. The killing drew attention to the presence of transnational criminal groups — particularly Colombians — in Argentina and caused a wave of concern that the country could see Colombia style narco-violence.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

These events and the press coverage they have garnered have stirred a response from high profile politicians. Ricardo Lorenzetti, president of the Supreme Court, called on the court to find solutions to the “grave problem” of drug trafficking, saying it is affecting the rule of law. Mauricio Macri, head of the Buenos Aires government, also expressed his “enormous concern” with the current situation of drug trafficking in Argentina, saying “the future of our society is in play.”

With drug trafficking and organized crime now moving up the media and political agenda, leaders must now address the question of what action Argentina can take to stem the tide.

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