Government officials held an emergency meeting with national and provincial officials on Thursday, amid concerns of a surge of ‘narco’ violence in Santa Fe Province.
Following 17 murders already in this infant year in the first half of its first month in the region, mostly in the region's largest city Rosario, officials descended on the Casa Rosada for an emergency huddle to formulate plans to tackle the crisis.
Despite the injection of 2,200 border guards and 700 Federal Police officers to bolster a recently purged provincial police, there is no sign of the violence with its epicentre in Rosario drug-trafficking letting up.
The slayings are seen as the aftermath of the emblematic ‘Los Monos’ trial with elements of that notorious drug-trafficking gang among the victims, although the vendetta has also extended to the families of rogue policemen.
The violence has also been interpreted as a backlash against the purge of the Santa Fe provincial police force implemented by the new Peronist Governor Omar Perotti soon after taking office last month, removing 30 senior officers.
"Let's not forget that there is a police chief [that has been] convicted and imprisoned for complicity with drug-trafficking," an adviser to Perotti told Perfil on Thursday.
The newly revamped force are now authorised to go on the beat with the safety catches off their firearms as Rosario has become a battlefield.
Perotti was present at Thursday’s meeting hosted by Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero together with Security Minister Sabina Frederic and her provincial counterpart Marcelo Sain (seen as a driving force behind the purge). They signed an agreement establishing a panel for “permanent collaboration” between the two levels of government.
Sources inside the government also told Perfil that the sending of more federal security forces remained on the table.