Barras Bravas: The Invisible Hand

October 3, 2018 Crime , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER , South America

AP photo



Ricardo Swire



Wiretaps and electronic surveillance were part of a special Argentine law enforcement investigation that exposed a two nation “Cartel de Las Barras” or “Soccer Hooligan Cartel.” On Wednesday September 26, 2018 the four month operation concluded with the detention of fifteen members of Laferrere “Barras Bravas,” a criminalized soccer hooligan gang. Barras Bravas is the invisible hand that imports Colombian cocaine and manages distribution in Greater Buenos Aires.


Law enforcers conducted twenty raids on multiple Argentinean locations, investigators finding 1,100 doses of cocaine and 1,400 doses of “paco,” or the smokeable paste derived from cocaine’s middle production stage. A kilo of marijuana, nine guns of various calibres and ten vehicles were seized. The name of a twenty-seven year old Colombian man who frequently visited Argentina was exposed. Publicly he is the boss of Medellin’s Atletico Nacional soccer team fan club. Privately he functions as trafficking coordinator for a powerful drug cartel.


The Colombian routinely visited Peru and Ecuador to arrange shipment routes and transportation, La Paternal, a splinter group of “The Peruvians,” his main contact. When the Medellin Atletico Nacional fan club chief stayed in Argentina he was guest of “El Gordo” leader of Laferrere Barra Brava cartel, aka the criminal arm of Club Deportivo soccer team in Buenos Aires. Since 2010 Laferrere Barra Brava has successfully extorted domestic businesses for protection payments.


The criminal organization coordinates most of La Matanza, Greater Buenos Aires’ drug trade. In 2015 police detained and charged eleven Laferrere Barra Brava members for possession of illegal semi-automatic assault rifles. Ten days later the invisible hand clenched as a fist and the detainees were set free. Barra Brava’s extortion success has also given it control over informal transportation services comprised of private vehicles and buses.


Collaboration between Argentinean soccer hooligan cartels and counterparts in Colombia especially Atletico Nacional is evident. In June/July 2018, during FIFA’s Soccer World Cup in Russia, the Agency for Prevention of Violence in Sports (APREVIDE) shared intelligence with Argentinean national security officials regarding a series of suspicious meeting between the two Argentine/Colombian soccer hooligan cartels.





Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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