Newsbrief: Argentina Leads Latin America in Jailed Drug Offenders 8/8/03

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Argentina has more people serving prison sentences for drug crimes than any country in South America, both in real numbers and per capita, according to a report released this week by the Centro del Estudios Nueva Mayoria (New Majority Research Center), an Argentine think tank and polling organization. Based on figures from 2001, the last year for which numbers were available, the study found that Argentines constitute 43% of all imprisoned drug offenders in South America.

Some 81,000 persons were arrested for drug offenses in South America in 2001, nearly 35,000 from Argentina. Argentina also led the per capita figures, with one drug prisoner for every 1,044 citizens. Next was Uruguay, with one for every 1,841 citizens, followed by Peru, with one for every 2,028; Colombia, with one for every 2,087; Chile, with one for every 3,043; Bolivia, with one for every 4,884; Ecuador, with one for every 5,263; Venezuela, with one for every 7,793; Paraguay, with one for every 38,852; and in last place, Brazil, which jailed only one drug offender for each 63,005 citizens.

Thus, Argentina jailed drug offenders at a rate more than 60 times that of its northern neighbor. According to New Majority, the higher rate is not due to higher consumption or greater involvement in drug trafficking, but "probably because there is more effective action against this phenomenon" in Argentina.

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