Argentine agents dismantle drug trafficking ring

The dismantling of an Argentine-Paraguayan drug trafficking network that smuggled marijuana and cocaine for the Buenos Aires market highlights Paraguay's importance as a transit point and producer in the regional drug trade.

Federal police agents arrested 12 people, both Argentines and Paraguayans, seizing 50 kilos of cocaine and 380 of marijuana on September 11, according to a Security Ministry press release.

The operation was the result of a three-year investigation into the gang, which operated in Villa 21-24, the largest slum on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Investigators found that the group smuggled marijuana from Paraguay in burlap flour sacks and then stored them in a bakery that was used as a front, La Nacion newspaper reported.  

Authorities also seized 1,500 small packages of “paco,” a cheap form of crack-cocaine popular in Argentina, along with weapons and $150,000.

The government heralded the operation as having dealt a significant blow to one of the largest groups selling narcotics in the country’s capital.

InSight Crime Analysis

The bust highlights Paraguay's importance in the regional drug trade. It is South America's largest producer of marijuana, accounting for some 15 percent of world supply, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Paraguay's anti-narcotics agency the SENAD estimated in their 2011 report that a kilo of marijuana can be sold for $1,000 in Argentina.

It is not clear whether the seized cocaine also came from Paraguay. This would not be surprising, though, with Paraguay a vital transit point for the drug, favored by traffickers thanks to its strategic location, loose rule of law, and high levels of corruption.

Argentina is Latin America’s second largest domestic market for cocaine after Brazil, accounting for 25 percent of the region's users, based on UNODC figures. The population of drug users in Buenos Aires alone is estimated to have doubled from around 27,000 in 2007.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...