Record level homicides in Santa Fe, Argentina have prompted a reshuffling in the local security command along with a ban on weapons, amid growing concerns over insecurity in this northeastern city, which is located along the country’s principal route for trafficking cocaine.
On October 18, the number of homicides in the Santa Fe metropolitan area rose to 119 thus far this year, with the shooting of a 19-year-old youth. This number has now surpassed the previous record high of 116 violent deaths in 2007, reported La Nacion.
In the midst of the city’s security crisis, the provincial vice minister of security has resigned and has been replaced with retired Gendarmerie General Gerardo Chaumont, reported La Nacion. Chaumont has experience training police in war zones and is expected to emphasize improving police operations in Santa Fe.
The city’s mayor, Jose Corral, has also temporarily prohibited the sale of firearms and ammunition, according to news site Ambito.
In addition to the 119 murders, 1,200 people in Santa Fe have been injured in attacks this year, 760 with bullet wounds, reported El Litoral.
InSight Crime Analysis
This pattern of homicides in Santa Fe follows a similar trend seen in the neighboring city of Rosario, where murders reached record levels in 2013 as gangs struggled for control of the local drug markets. Santa Fe may be seeing some spillover violence, as the remnants of Los Monos — a gang that was largely dismantled in Rosario — reportedly began expanding operations to Santa Fe as of May 2014.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina
Santa Fe is located just to the east of the Ruta 34, the principal highway used to traffic cocaine down from Bolivia into Argentina, which ends in Rosario. This geography likely makes it vulnerable to many of the same influences that have affected Rosario.
As Argentina’s status as a drug transit nation has grown, and the presence of foreign cartels has deepened, local drug gangs have been bolstered by the growing domestic drug market. Some of these gangs — like Los Monos — have begun showing signs of sophistication, operating with networks of hired assassins and issuing threats to officials. One member of Los Monos even attempted to begin producing his own cocaine.