Argentina’s government has stepped up security at the ports in its main grain exporting hub of Rosario, counting on cooperation with private terminal operators to keep drug traffickers away from a key industry.

Some 3,000 federal police, coast guard, gendarmerie and airport police have been deployed in Santa Fe province in recent weeks with about half of those based in Rosario, which handles about 80 percent of Argentina’s grain exports.

More than a dozen commodities trading companies operating in and around Rosario, including industry giants like Cargill, have agreed to work with the government “to prevent our ports from becoming a free entry point for drug trafficking,” according to Security Minister Patricia Bullrich.

The focus on ports is part of center-right President Mauricio Macri’s efforts to crack down on drug trafficking. He declared a one-year state of emergency in January, a month into his term, to allow suspected drug planes to be shot down.

The ports agreement, signed in September and reviewed by Reuters, authorizes federal forces to enter private terminals and shows that grain merchants in the world’s No. 3 corn and soy exporter are also concerned about the drug trade.

Argentina has mostly avoided the drug violence seen in Colombia and Mexico, but it is now the fifth largest trafficking point of cocaine en route to Europe and Asia, according to the United Nations. Argentina does not produce the drug itself but cocaine from Bolivia, Peru and Colombia pass through its borders.

Read the whole article from Reuters.

Featured image courtesy of Reuters.

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