Reacting to the ongoing bloodshed in crime-ridden Rosario, President Alberto Fernandez announced Tuesday that he is boosting the number of federal security forces available in the region for the combatting of drug-trafficking and violence.
The Peronist leader also said he would deploy the Army’s engineering company in the region to support the process of improving and urbanising working-class neighbourhoods.
"I have ordered the reinforcement of the federal forces to reach, at this stage, 1,400 troops. Security Minister Aníbal Fernández will be there tomorrow [Wednesday] to put this into effect," President Fernández said in a televised message.
The measures are a response to the growing wave of violence in Rosario, home to Argentina’s main agro-export port on the Paraná River. The city has the highest homicide rate in the country, recording 22 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants last year – five times the national average.
Argentina is a federal country and each province has its own police force. Federal security forces are only usually deployed for special operations. As well as strengthening the number of officers available to the region, Fernández also announced that the Army, via its engineers corps, would support “the urbanisation of working-class neighbourhoods, speeding up necessary tasks".
The Armed Forces are prohibited by law from participating in internal security operations, but they are allowed to cooperate in citizen relief tasks, as they did during the pandemic, Fernández observed.
"The fight against organised crime has not achieved the expected results. Organised crime does not develop from one day to the next, it takes time to take over territories and co-opt wills, this is what guarantees their impunity. I understand that Rosario needs us, I know that its security forces are insufficient," said the Frente de Todos leader.
Among additional measures, the Financial Information Unit money-laundering body will set up a new branch in Rosario office to "be more efficient in tracking money-laundering derived from drug-trafficking," said the president, adding that 600 new surveillance cameras with facial recognition software will be installed.
In a nod to reports that many assassinations are being ordered by jailed drug-cartel bosses, Fernández also said that prisons “will take extreme care with inmates who have been convicted and intend to continue to control their criminal objectives from prison.”
He concluded: "We are going to put the authority of the state at centre stage to give the city back its community life. We are making strong decisions. We are not wavering in the fight against organised crime.”