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Argentina: Five Arrests In Russian Embassy Cocaine Probe


A handout picture released on February 22 by Argentina's Security Ministry that was taken in Buenos Aires during a police sting operation, which resulted in the seizure of nearly 400 kilos of cocaine from the Russian Embassy.

Five suspected members of a drug-trafficking ring were arrested in Argentina and Russia as part of a joint police investigation that was launched more than a year ago after 389 kilograms of cocaine were found in the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentinian officials say.

Argentinian Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said that the probe led to the arrest on February 22 of a naturalized Russian who was a member of the police force in Buenos Aires and another citizen of the South American country.

The investigation started in December 2016, when Russia’s ambassador to Argentina reported to Argentinian authorities that they had suspicions about luggage found in an annex of the embassy.

Once authorities confirmed that traffickers were trying to move 16 bags of cocaine from the embassy by way of a diplomatic flight, "a tracking device was placed in the suitcase that was to be used to make the shipment to Russia, which was its destination," Bullrich told reporters.

The luggage was flown to Russia in 2017, and Bullrich said three Argentinian customs officials traveled to Russia to monitor the delivery.

Two individuals were arrested when they went to pick up the cargo, while a former embassy official was arrested in his Moscow apartment.

Another suspect is still at large and is wanted under an international arrest warrant.

"This has been one of the most complex and extravagant drug-dealing operations that Argentina has faced," Bullrich said.

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

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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