ARAUCANÍA – Several raids by the investigations police (PDI) in La Araucanía Region were met it violence that has left one officer dead and at least 10 injured. Critics, including the brother of the dead officer, have raised doubts. The raids took place as the verdict against those involved in the Catrillanca killing was made public, and they targeted Catrillanca’s family, including his orphan daughter.
Chile’s investigations police (PDI) conducted several raids in La Araucanía Region. Over 800 officers seized almost 1,300 marijuana plants, 4kg of processed marijuana, seven firearms, among them an Uzi submachine gun, and over CLP$12 million (US$17,300) in cash.
The raids on Jan. 7 have come under fire due to allegations of being a pretext for Mapuche repression, considering that the family, including the little daughter of Camilo Catrillanca, were swept up in the operation.
Catrillanca, a Mapuche, was shot in the back last year by special police forces which then covered the killing up with the encouragement of their superiors. The shooter was found guilty the same day the raids took place.
Criticism of the Raid
Timing and targets of the raid have raised questions about state repression. Most houses targeted are owned by Mapuche. And the raid took place at the same time as an ex-police sergeant was found guilty of murdering Camilo Catrillanca in 2018.
Even more doubts emerged when it became known that Catrillanca’s mother, widow, and his seven-year-old orphan daughter were detained. The latter was forced on the ground by two officers while a third one was clearly ready to shoot.
Taken aback by the public outcry, PDI officials later claimed the child was only held in custody until she could be handed to her grandfather. Chile’s Ombudswoman for Children, Patricia Muñoz, who has also become a target of right-wing lawmakers, has already started legal actions.
But the brother of the killed PDI officer has also leveled accusations. In a now restricted tweet, Ramón Balcázar suggested the operation’s real purpose “is unclear” wrote. His brother was investigating drug crimes in Iquique.
According to the head prosecutor of La Araucanía Region, the raid was the culmination of an eight-month investigation into possible gun and drug trafficking.
PDI personnel were ambushed while leaving the location. One officer died in the ensuing shootout and at least 10 were injured.
Interior undersecretary Juan Francisco Galli traveled to the area to get a clearer picture. During a press conference he said, “no more excuses. We have drug trafficking, gun trafficking and assassinations. What we need to do is to have those people taken to justice and have them serve the punishment that they deserve.”