María Candelaria Acevedo believes organised crime is responsible to salmon thefts.

Chilean MP wants a prosecutor assigned exclusively to probe salmon robberies

Thefts have cost the industry up to US $70 million in five years


A Chilean MP has asked for a prosecutor to be exclusively assigned to investigate robberies of farmed salmon by what she says are organised crime gangs, the media outlet Digital Chronicle reports. The robberies, often involving armed hijackings and the short-term kidnapping of drivers, are estimated to have cost the industry between US $22 million and $70m since 2019.

María Candelaria Acevedo made the request during a meeting of a special investigative commission into salmon thefts. In Chile, the role of prosecutors includes the investigation of offences. They can carry out a direct investigation by themselves or through instructions to the police.

The investigative commission collects information on the sale of salmon of illegal origin, the zero sanitary conditions in which it is sold and its impact on the industry and work in the south-central zone of Chile.

Senior police officers

It met in the offices of Biobío Regional Council. It was attended by the regional delegate, Daniela Dresdner; Carabineros general, César Bobadilla; the regional head of the investigative police force (PDI), Prefect Inspector, Hugo Haeger; as well as executives from companies in the field.

Acevedo is a member of the Chamber of Deputies (equivalent to the House of Commons or US House of Representatives) for Biobío, and a member of the commission.

After listening to the presentations to the commission, Acevedo asked to officiate with the National Prosecutor, Ángel Valencia, so that he “can give exclusivity to a prosecutor” to concentrate on the issue which she said was important not only for the Biobío region, but for the rest of the country.

Organised crime

“We have a multi-million-dollar loss with respect to the theft of salmon and therefore we believe that we have to make efforts in another way to end this organised crime, just as in what has been the theft of wood,” said Avecedo.

Haeger indicated that a PDI team has been working since 2020 on various crimes related to the theft of salmon, seeking to establish “a new focus”, which would allow them to establish a modus operandi in the gangs, which would support the thesis put forward by Acevedo about the illicit association surrounding the theft and illegal transportation of salmon in the country.

A tragic past

Avecedo, a communist, was involuntarily involved in a dark moment in Chile’s past during the reign of the dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Her father, Sebastián Acevedo, immolated himself in November 1983 after not having news of her or a son, Galo, who had been detained by Pinochet’s secret police two days earlier. He died shortly afterwards.

María Candelaria was released after the immolation.

The case generated a stir in public opinion and led to the creation of the Movement Against Torture Sebastián Acevedo, a human rights defence group that was coordinated by a Jesuit priest.