According to official statistics for 2016, in the first five months of the year there have been at least 78 kidnappings for ransom in Buenos Aires Province and 15 in the City of Buenos Aires, though unofficial statistics point to a significantly more grim reality of one kidnapping per day.
According to Clarin, hot spots of crime in the province are centered in San Martín and Ituzaingó and the city — not surprisingly — in areas such as Belgrano and Núñez.
Law enforcement suggest that having more officials on the ground, especially in the province and at entrypoints into the capital, has driven gangs of kidnappers to make forrays into the City in areas such as the aforementioned northern neighborhoods.
As a result of these statistics, Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal announced that the provincial government has put into place “civil brigades” to combat the rise in kidnappings.
“I am in constant communication with Security Minister Cristian Ritondo, we’re working on areas that we’ve determined to be ‘difficult’,” she told press.
“We’ve identified a number of gangs in the south of the province and to the west and we’re looking into whether there’s some kind of larger web of organized crime.”
The civil brigades refer to police in plainclothes on patrol, an initiative that according to Clarin has been in a testing phase the past two weeks in the area surrounding the General Paz. Meanwhile, Ritondo has signed a resolution requiring at least 30 percent of the existing local police force patrol in the evening hours so that there will be at least 4,000 troops on duty until 2 AM.
These new measures mark a significant change from previous years, when large swaths of the City went unpatrolled. Now the aim is to make sure none of the 1,400 blocks in the Greater Buenos Aires Area are without police force. It remains to be seen whether the infiltration of police into the area actually does improve crime rates or gives rise to police abuse seen lately in Brazil, the United States and generally wherever there is poverty and a vacuum of power.