Ten former members of the UOCRA leadership in Bahía Blanca have been taken into custody on conspiracy and extortion charges. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)

The former leadership of the UOCRA construction workers’ union in Bahía Blanca is currently in custody on charges of extortion and criminal conspiracy.

During the pre-dawn raids to arrest the unionists, more than 5 million pesos and US$ 100,000 in cash were found in bags and boxes in the house where Humberto Monteros, former head of the UOCRA Bahía Blanca, was arrested. The figures were confirmed by Prosecutor Juan Pablo Fernández to state-run news agency Télam.

10 people were arrested today after 19 raids were conducted (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)
Ten people were arrested today after 19 raids were conducted (Photo via Noticias Argentinas)

 

Monteros, leader of the Bahía Blanca chapter of the UOCRA until October 2017, was one of ten UOCRA members taken into custody today by the Buenos Aires Provincial Police. Monteros’ deputy Jorge Bernardo Burgos was also detained and at the moment, four people remain at large. The national leadership of the UOCRA has already disavowed Monteros, and stressed the fact that he and the others had been removed from the leadership of the union due to their “incompatibility.”

The 19 raids that took place today in Monte Hermoso, Bahía Blanca, and Coronel Suárez were sparked by an investigation into an alleged criminal conspiracy and more than 30 counts of extortion.

More than 5 million pesos in cash was found at one of the homes that was searched. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas).
More than 5 million pesos in cash were found at one of the homes that was searched. (Photo via Noticias Argentinas).

 

Investigative sources quoted by Télam said that the focus was on conspiracy because “this was a group of people organized and managed by the two leader of the local UOCRA chapter, Monteros and Burgos, who directed the other members of this conspiracy. They pressured and extorted businesses in the construction sector.” According to those same sources, the scheme “consisted in asking business for sums of money or demanding that they contract companies tied to them or their family members with excessive prices, leaving them with significant earnings, based on the threat of the works being paralyzed or workers holding assemblies.”

With this news, Monteros and Burgos join the growing list of union leaders facing judicial investigations, the last one having been, Marcelo Balcedo arrested last week in Uruguay on money-laundering charges.