April 23, 2014

Provincial leader fires short-lived Security Minister Alejandra Monteoliva

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Córdoba’s De la Sota reshuffles Cabinet amid provincial crisis

After weeks of uninterrupted crisis, which began with a drug-related police scandal and continued with last week’s widespread looting, Córdoba province Governor José Manuel de la Sota yesterday responded by announcing a reshuffle of his provincial Cabinet.

De la Sota fired Cabinet chief Oscar González and Security Secretary Alejandra Monteoliva, who ended an 84-day term in office marked by the police scandal and a complete lack of coordination with the province’s other ministries.

The dissident Peronist replaced both with Walter Saieg, mayor of the Córdoba province city of Alta Gracia. Saieg was awarded the title of justice and government minister, a new post created by de la Sota.

De la Sota also appointed Julio César Suárez — who previously worked in highway policing — as the province’s new police chief. He will replace César Almada, who had tendered his resignation just hours earlier.

Among other changes, Walter Abel Díaz will be in charge of the province’s Drugs Unit. Previous holders of the post have been arrested and accused of having ties with drug lords.

The Unión por Córdoba (UPC) leader called on the provincial police force to reconstruct itself and said that newly-appointed police chiefs have the responsibility of “bringing back peace to the province.”

Long story short

In September, police whistleblower Juan Francisco Viarnes — who had been arrested on an unrelated crime — alleged that police chiefs in the province had links to drug lords and offered to provide information in return for being allowed to keep a portion of the drugs seized in raids.

His claims came as part of an investigation led by federal prosecutor Enrique Senestrari, who days later said that unregistered drugs had been found during a raid carried out at the headquarters of the Drugs Unit.

When the scandal broke out, González — now outside the government — insisted the drugs were used “to train sniffer dogs.”

Police chief Rafael Sosa and officers Franco Argüello, Alfredo Saine, Mario Osorio and Fabián Peralta Dáttoli were arrested and accused of conspiracy in the scandal. The investigation remains open.

—Herald Staff

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