The Christian Science Monitor
Friday, November 2, 2012
By Geoffrey Ramsey
Evidence of police corruption in northern Argentina illustrates how vulnerable the country is to organized crime, as domestic demand for cocaine rises and the country emerges as a regional trafficking hub, with one of Colombia's biggest capos captured there this week.
The case of Hugo Tognoli, former police commissioner of the northern Santa Fe province, provides a useful insight into the institutional crisis currently faced by the Argentine police. Mr. Tognoli was accused of receiving kickbacks from drug trafficking organizations based in Santa Fe. He resigned on Oct. 19, and briefly went missing before turning himself in to authorities on Oct. 21. Tognoli denies the charges against him.
Public prosecutors accuse Tognoli of organizing a scheme with local drug trafficking networks in which he took monthly payments of $150,000 in exchange for allowing them to operate in his area. The evidence against the police commissioner suggests that such arrangements were a hallmark of his leadership style. Investigators claim to have a record of a text message exchange between one of Tognoli’s subordinates and a brothel owner, in which the latter asked how much the commissioner would charge him to sell cocaine. “30,000 [pesos a month, or about $6,300] directly to Tognoli,” was the response.
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