Buenos Aires: Tragedy in Argentina: at least 17 dead and more than 50 hospitalized for consuming poisoned cocaine | International

Police officers during the raid on a bunker in the Puerta 8 settlement, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Police officers during the raid on a bunker in the Puerta 8 settlement, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.ELIANA OBREGÓN (AFP)

The distribution of adulterated cocaine in the suburbs of Buenos Aires has caused a tragedy. At least 17 people have died and more than fifty have had to be hospitalized due to drug use that had been processed with some substance “with a high level of toxicity” yet to be identified. The health authorities of the province of Buenos Aires have launched an epidemiological alert while the police trace the origin of the poisoned drug and have so far arrested ten people.

The arrests have occurred in a bunker in the settlement known as Puerta 8, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. It was the place indicated as the point of sale of the poisoned cocaine, according to the Minister of Security of the province of Buenos Aires, Sergio Berni. “We have found the same packaging that relatives of victims gave us to investigate,” Berni told the TN news channel. “It is very important that you help us show the packaging. It is nylon and pink. It would seem that they were closed by thermofusion, ”he added when speaking before the cameras about the seized drug.

Police with part of the drug seized in the Puerta 8 settlement.
Police with part of the drug seized in the Puerta 8 settlement.ELIANA OBREGÓN (AFP)

The authorities’ concern about the case is very high, which has led the provincial Security Minister to make a request to all drug users: “Those who bought drugs in the last 24 hours have to discard them.” It is, as he said, a substance with “high level of toxicity.”

The investigators await the result of the toxicological tests to know the lethal substance with which the cocaine was mixed. “This is exceptional, we have no precedent, which leads us to think that whatever substance it is has been intentionally included. It is not an error in the processing of the material, or it does not seem to be because the expertise is not there yet, ”said the attorney general of the Buenos Aires town of San Martín, Marcelo Lapargo.

The main symptoms of hospitalized users are “signs of shock, sensory depression, respiratory distress and psychomotor arousal”, according to the epidemiological alert issued by the Ministry of Health to medical personnel. The health authorities suspect that “it could be cases of opiate intoxication and the existence of another linked product is unknown”, although they are awaiting the toxicological tests to confirm or rule out that hypothesis.

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The investigators also seek to clarify in which link of the drug distribution chain it was adulterated and what were the reasons for doing so. According to sources cited by the newspaper La Nación, one possibility is that it is linked to a war between drug gangs. “One hypothesis suggests that a batch of narcotics was adulterated by a drug trafficker to ruin the business of a rival and clear the territory of competitors. There is no doubt that the toxic substance was placed on purpose,” said the aforementioned sources.

The authorities fear that the number of victims will increase as the hours go by, since some of the hospitalized patients are in serious condition and new intoxicated patients are still arriving.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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