Residents of a neighborhood on the outskirts of the Argentine capital have blocked the main highway leading into the city for the third day in a row after authorities made a series of arrests for trafficked cocaine that turned deadly.
Residents of the poor neighborhood of Puerta 8, 40 km from Buenos Aires, are protesting the arrest of more than 13 people from the area who are believed to be linked to the adulterated batch of drugs that killed 24 people.
It is understood that the cocaine which was likely mixed with opioids was bought in the area.
23 of the people who took the illegal drug are still hospitalized. Two are in critical condition on mechanical ventilation.
Up to 200 people are thought to have seen a doctor after taking the drugs.
Most of those who died died away from the suspected outlet, 12 at home and two on the road, unable to get to hospital due to the sudden effects. Many suffered heart attacks.
Residents feel targeted by repression
Residents of Puerta 8 say many of those arrested by police are drug dealers or low-level runners and some are completely innocent.
Lucía Galloso, the grandmother of one of the suspects Priscila Faunde, believes the police are deliberately targeting innocent people.
She worries her family won’t be able to afford a lawyer for her granddaughter because they already don’t have enough money to eat.
Police have so far seized more than 20,000 doses of cocaine in a recent crackdown, but did not reveal how many came from the laced lot.
The adulterated cocaine deaths have highlighted the dangers of illegal drug use, particularly cheap, low-quality cocaine sold and consumed in the poorest communities of Buenos Aires.
At least 250,000 doses of cocaine are sold daily in the province of Buenos Aires, according to its security minister Sergio Berni. 40% of Argentina’s population lives in the province, while poverty rates in the country remain high.
Authorities are investigating whether the toxic composition of the drug was accidental or an attempt to settle scores with rival gangs.
The death investigation is still ongoing. The prosecutor said what happened was “unprecedented” in the South American country.