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Montevideo, November 19th 2018 - 19:57 UTC

Sour victory for Macri: all fugitives captured after 15-days on the run; 'the whole system is rotten'

Tuesday, January 12th 2016 - 07:24 UTC
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Brothers Martin and Cristian Lanatta  and Victor Schillaci, convicted of drugs-related killings, escaped from a top security jail on Dec. 27 in a prison break Brothers Martin and Cristian Lanatta and Victor Schillaci, convicted of drugs-related killings, escaped from a top security jail on Dec. 27 in a prison break
Martin Lanatta was nabbed on Saturday, but his brother and Schillaci escaped; Macri was misled that day to celebrate the capture of all three Martin Lanatta was nabbed on Saturday, but his brother and Schillaci escaped; Macri was misled that day to celebrate the capture of all three
“The whole system is rotten and the worst scenario is the province of Buenos Aires”, Argentina's largest and richest, blasted Macri. “The whole system is rotten and the worst scenario is the province of Buenos Aires”, Argentina's largest and richest, blasted Macri.
Our responsibility is to look into these networks of complicity within politics, the judiciary, and security forces, underlined Security minister Patricia Bullrich Our responsibility is to look into these networks of complicity within politics, the judiciary, and security forces, underlined Security minister Patricia Bullrich

Fifteen days of a major embarrassment for the government of Argentine president Mauricio Macri came to an end on Monday after police commandos recaptured two of the country's most notorious convicts in a rice mill plant, ending a 15-day manhunt through backwater towns and two provinces.

 Victor Schillaci and brothers Martin and Cristian Lanatta, who are convicted of drugs-related killings, escaped from a top security jail on Dec. 27 in a prison break that raised concerns about how corrupt the system is, apparently financed by drug bosses who have infiltrated political circles and the security forces.

Crack police nabbed Martin Lanatta on Saturday, but his brother and Schillaci slipped through the dragnet, heaping embarrassment on President Mauricio Macri who had publicly celebrated the capture of all three only two days before.

They were finally cornered near the farming town of Cayasta in the province of Santa Fe, 570 km north of the capital Buenos Aires, and appeared to have surrendered without a struggle.

In Santa Fe, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said their capture marked the start of the new government's investigation into the ties of organized crime. The Buenos Aires province police which is the largest force and best equipped of Argentina supposedly was able to sporadically track the fugitives but never pinned them down.

“This is just the beginning of a task which will take us many years,” Bullrich told a news conference. “Our responsibility is to look into these networks of complicity within politics, the judiciary, and security forces; the huge black holes of active and passive conspiracy, which includes not only helping those in the run but passing on deliberate false and fabricated information.”

The 15-day hunt had gripped the Argentine nation and news that it is over will ease pressure on Macri, who was left red faced after false information led officials to announce the search was over while two of the men remained on the loose.

“The whole system is rotten and the worst scenario is the province of Buenos Aires”, Argentina's largest and richest, blasted Macri. “Institutional decadence together with the non functioning of the government branches has allowed the drugs cartels to advance as never before in Argentina. It's very easy when the state is absent, to take advantage of a huge gap”.

Macri went on to say that those who preach about the importance of the State “have dedicated time and efforts to disarticulate it. Without any internal procedures, protocols or electronic background, it's really hard to get hold of the information”.

However “this is only the beginning, it's not enough winning elections, the inaction or even complicity of the former government with drug traffickers is scandalous”.

“There are mafia organized sectors and groupings in the Buenos Aires province very much concerned because the governor, Maria Eugenia Vidal is cutting corruption and funds; this has them nervous. In effect, the three fellows on the run didn't feel safe at the high security prison and thus with some money, not much, managed to escape” underlined Macri.

The three men were serving life sentences for the 2008 killing of three businessmen in the pharmaceutical industry, allegedly linked to an ephedrine trafficking gang. The high-profile case was dubbed “The triple murder.”

Ephedrine is used for the production of methamphetamine.

The search has focused attention on the growing muscle of drug gangs in Argentina, which drug-enforcement officials say has become an increasingly important transit point for the smuggling of South American drugs to Europe and the Americas.

Prosecutors said they had launched an investigation into whether narco gangs helped the three men in their prison break.

Security minister Bullrich congratulated the federal and provincial forces which led the manhunt and assured the national government “will investigate the complicity links” which allowed the convicted to escape from a high security prison in General Alvear“.

“We have gone through hard and complicated days,” the national official said adding “we have an enemy infiltrating everywhere.” ”We don’t want drug trafficking to manage power or government branches” the minister warned.

The Buenos Aires province police with its almost 60.000 members is far the largest organization in arms in Argentina. The Argentine Army has 35.000 members.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

Top Comments

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  • golfcronie

    “ Crack police” ” is that Argentinian for the police on drugs?

    Jan 12th, 2016 - 09:05 am 0
  • ElaineB

    The story that has gripped Argentina for 15 days but we had to follow it elsewhere. The gang were apprehended when their car overturned on the badly maintained roads. The car/van had the markings of a police car and one report has them in police uniform. There is no doubt that they were assisted in their escape.

    I suspect 'The Walrus' Aníbal Fernández is up to his neck in the drugs trade and complicit. Things are getting uncomfortable for the K's.

    Jan 12th, 2016 - 10:17 am 0
  • Marti Llazo

    @2 . Actually the “gang” were apprehended in two separate operations. The first of the Lanatta brothers (Martín) was recaptured a few days ago. The other two fugitives were caught together more recently in Cayastá, not far from the first apprehension, and taken to the local police station. But when the federal police arrived they were not allowed into the building, which created quite the scene but it probably made sense since there was a possibility of engineering yet another escape. And it was evidently the federal police themselves who had mis-reported the earlier capture of all three to Macri's cabinet, and when they discovered that they had been misinformed, they were furious. And the whole thing took on a sort of Keystone Cops aspect, and making the Macri government look foolish.

    The details of the recapture are also interesting. There was one worker on his way to the rice processing plant who for some reason had notified the local police that he was going to the plant, apparently because of the local dragnet and a reasonable concern that the fugitives might be hiding out there. But the worker didn't wait for the police to arrive before he went in and started work, when the bad guys grabbed him and locked him in a room. But shortly thereafter the provincial police did arrive and it was Game Over at that point. At least for the time being.

    One of the interesting features of the recent events is that Macri is so publicly discussing the corrupt nature of many of the penal and law enforcement agencies, something that it seems everybody either knows or suspects, and of course this corruption is one of the Seven Pillars of Peronism and more specifically, Kirchnerism. So Macri's job is doubly difficult, since there is an enormous fifth column installed in the government agencies. The question on everyone's mind is whether the Morsa is going to be able to silence those three guys before someone sings.

    Jan 12th, 2016 - 11:21 am 0
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