Argentina found 400 kilos of cocaine in the Russian embassy

Larry Hoffman
February 26, 2018

While still at the embassy, the cocaine, valued at 50 million euros, was replaced with flour by authorities in an unprecedented joint investigation between the two countries.

The plot was discovered by the Russian ambassador in December 2016 when he came across 400kg of the drug inside 12 suitcases in an storage facility owned by the embassy.

"We have dismantled an worldwide cocaine trafficking organisation operating between Argentina, Russia and Germany", Argentina's security minister Patricia Bullrich told a press conference on 22 February.

A year after the switch, in December 2017, the cargo was finally shipped to Russian Federation as diplomatic luggage in a government plane.

"This has been one of the most complex and extravagant drug-dealing operations that Argentina has faced", Bullrich said at a press conference. Authorities then quickly fitted the bags with cameras and Global Positioning System tracking devices, replaced the cocaine with flour purchased from a Buenos Aires grocery store and put the suitcases back before embassy staff arrived the next day. She said the sting had resulted in the arrest of five suspects - two in Argentina and three in Russian Federation.

Mr. K remains at large and an global warrant was put out for his arrest.

She said Russian security service agents had also traveled to Argentina to assist in the probe.

The drug, of "very high purity", was destined for Russian Federation and probably also Germany, where the suspected mastermind lives.

"At 3 am we had to send people from the border police to buy the 389 kg of flour to the central market (in Buenos Aires) because no one had 389 kgs in a warehouse", she said.

"The drugs never traveled to Russian Federation - only the flour", Bullrich said.

The others arrested were Ali Abyanov, a former embassy official and diplomatic insider to the trafficking ring; Ivan Blizniouk, a Buenos Aires police officer who helped get the bags through Argentinian customs; and two Russian-Argentine citizens.

Investigators believe cocaine is imported from Colombia or Peru.

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