Dramatic shoot-out on an Argentine roadway

Could this have been an attack by paramilitary thugs?

The federal prosecutor’s bodyguard shot it out with criminals who, from cars and motorcycles, assaulted a motorist in front of the official vehicle in which the functionary was riding, on the Illia highway.

In those circumstances, according what sources with the Federal and Metropolitan police forces told the Telam news agency, delinquents in a Citroën and a VW Bora intercepted, with possible intent to rob, the driver of the other car, which the guard intervened to prevent.

Seven men of Colombian nationality were detained at the scene, while other suspects fled on motorcycles. There were no injuries, according to the sources.

Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli told the press that they were driving along Costanera Rafael Obligado Avenue, just about to turn onto the freeway, when his escort “noticed strange movements on the part of some motorcycles”, whose occupants had “cellphones connected to earpieces”.

“They had all the appearance of being about to commit some illicit act, some got off their bikes, opened the door of a car, which is why my bodyguard got out and yelled at them, and they started to run away then,” said the functionary.

According to Stornelli, one of the delinquents passed in front of the car where he was sitting, and then there was “an exchange of shots”.

“I heard three or four shots. My bodyguard was able to stop two cars, seven of the delinquents, all of Colombian nationality,” Stornelli said.

The functionary of the Public Ministry stated that seven other assailants fled using three motorcycles and a car.
“I was in the line of fire for one moment, but the delinquent took off. I kept a prudent distance until all were arrested,” said Stornelli.

A Nissan Tiida was found this afternoon, bullet-riddled and parked in front of the Jorge Newbery Metropolitan Airport, metres away from the Fishermen’s Club. Investigators worked to determine if it might be another of the cars used by the gang.

National security secretary Sergio Berni told the press that “this week began with seven Colombian criminals who came to Argentina to commit crimes.”

“Due to the type of crime [they committed], I believe that tonight they’ll already be free, and I can assure you that in thirty, sixty or ninety days, one of them will be detained again by the Federal Police,” Berni complained.

Berni said that his declarations “are not xenophobic”, nor does he want to blame all crimes “on foreigners”, but he did emphasize that last week, there were 25 detentions of “criminals of Colombmian, Peruvian and Paraguayan nationality.”

“This is what society has to know, we have to discuss the Criminal Code in order to give the Justice Department the tools so that these persons be deported immediately and not come back again,” the secretary concluded.

Translation mine.

So, were they paracos? Let’s do the math.

Fourteen Colombian criminals, obviously banding together, wearing earpieces. Clearly a very well-organized criminal gang. Were they really only out to commit highway robbery? It’s not as though THAT never happens in Argentina…

The idea that this was just a common highway robbery gone awry falls apart when you realize that right behind the apparent “robbery” victim, there happened to be a federal prosecutor, riding with his bodyguard. In Latin America, federal prosecutors have what are easily some of the most dangerous jobs in the land, since they investigate and imprison every kind of nasty thug from drug smugglers to political assassins. And those who don’t submit to corruption are often marked for extermination. Was Carlos Stornelli one of those?

Oddly, according to this Yahoo story, Stornelli, a former minister of security for the capital city of Buenos Aires, asserts that no shots were aimed at himself. Which means that either these foreign “robbers” were incredibly unlucky in their choice of random targets to stick up, OR they were mistaken in which car they were being directed, via their earpieces, to overtake and shoot up.

Getting busted in flagrante by no less than a federal prosecutor and his bodyguard seems a bit too coincidental to be merely coincidental, though. A bigwig like Stornelli getting caught in such a close call, just a botched highway robbery aimed at somebody else? Yeah, just a total coinkydink. Uh-huh. Surrrrrrre.

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