Over 40 people were arrested over the long weekend for looting supermarkets and convenience stores in Buenos Aires City and different cities in Mendoza, Córdoba and Neuquén provinces.
On Monday night, five men armed with sticks tried to break into a store in Villa Padre Ricciardelli, a non-urbanized community formerly known as “Villa 1-11-14” located in Buenos Aires city. Neighbors called 911 and set off a security alarm when they saw a group of men trying to loot the store. When National Gendarmerie officers arrived, most of the group escaped before robbing the store, sources from the city’s Security Ministry told the Herald. However, one of them was arrested.
After the incident, the Gendarmerie asked surrounding stores to remain closed while they patrolled the area.
In Río Cuarto, Córdoba province, at least 15 people were arrested for attempting to loot a supermarket on Sunday night. The group showed up at the store’s front after having organized the looting over social media, police sources told Télam news agency.
Río Cuarto prosecutor Javier Di Santo charged nine adults with robbery and aggravated robbery on the grounds of knowingly participating with minors. One of them was also charged with robbery with a knife. There are also five minors who could be charged by the Juvenile Penal Justice, and other three under 16, who can’t be charged because of their age.
There were also other lootings and break-ins in nearby stores, although not all of them were successful.
In Las Heras and Guaymallén, two cities near the capital of Mendoza province, 28 people were arrested on Saturday for attempting to loot local supermarkets and robbing other stores. Seven of them were charged with aggravated robbery and four were let go after testifying, judiciary sources told Télam.
“They are trying to attract attention”
Over the weekend, three people were arrested and charged with “crime instigation” for creating WhatsApp groups where they organized the looting, after searches carried out by the Mendoza Digital Crimes department on Friday.
Another looting happened on Saturday in a supermarket in the capital city of Neuquén province. Local news outlet TodoRoca posted a video showing several hooded men, faces covered with scarves, haphazardly putting products in big bags. The Herald confirmed with TodoRoca that it was in a Neuquén city supermarket, on Río Senguer Street.
“These are criminal acts that intend to cause more confusion and conflict,” National Security Minister Aníbal Fernández told the press on Tuesday, according to Télam. “This wasn’t looting, they are trying to attract attention.”
The ministry was alerted of WhatsApp groups where looting was being organized last week and started working towards stopping them, he said.
“In those chats, they promoted meeting up [to loot] but didn’t specify a time or place,” Fernández said, adding that “they were not very organized.”
“I believe there is an ulterior motive here but I don’t know if they have a political motivation. My instinct tells me there is nothing here with other intentions other than causing conflict by itself,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, Chief of Staff and vice presidential candidate Agustín Rossi said that the government has been aware of this situation since Friday.
“We don’t see a social reaction here, but rather [criminal] acts that deserve to be punished with the full force of the law,” Rossi said during an interview with La Red radio station.
The July inflation rate was 6.3%, according to the National Institute for Statistics and Census (INDEC). However, consultants expect double-digit inflation in August, ranging from 10 to 15%, after La Libertad Avanza’s Javier Milei unexpected win in the August 13 primary elections.
The Herald reached out to different supermarket chambers, but they did not respond.
— with information from Télam