Ex-Argentina Anti-Drug Chief Accused of Trafficking Precursor Chemicals

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The former director of Argentina’s anti-drug agency has been accused of trafficking chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine, in a case that shows the extent of criminal organizations’ penetration of the state in a country of increasing importance to the transnational drug trade. 

Six former officials from Argentina’s Secretariat for Programming for the Prevention of Drug Addiction and Fight Against Drug Trafficking (Sedronar), including former director Jose Ramon Granero, have been accused of facilitating the trafficking of ephedrine, reported La Nacion.

According to the country’s Judicial Information Center (CIJ), the former officials followed customs procedures to bring ephedrine into the country and later changed the documentation on its intended use.   

Granero was the Director of Sedronar from June 2004 to December 2011, when he was replaced for his opposition to decriminalizing drug possession for personal use. Prior to serving as the head of Sedronar, Granero was the governor of the southern province of Santa Cruz between 1990 and 1991. 

In another possible case of official corruption, one of the most wanted drug traffickers in Argentina — Uruguayan national Gustavo Collado Correa, who was detained on July 12 in the Argentine city of Rosario — recently stated that he served as an advisor to Mario Ishii, a senator for the province of Buenos Aires. Ishii has confirmed that Collado was one of his advisors, but claims he was unaware of the alleged drug trafficker’s real identity.    

InSight Crime Analysis

Argentina is one of South America’s largest producers of precursor chemicals and also has notoriously loose controls on imports of these substances. As a result, the country has become a major supplier of precursor chemicals for Mexican drug cartels, in particular the Sinaloa Cartel, which use them to produce methamphetamine.

In addition to playing a crucial role in the production of methamphetamine, Argentina has a large domestic market for cocaine and serves as a transshipment point for European-bound cocaine. These factors have led to the development of local criminal groups as well as attracting transnational drug trafficking organizations from Colombia and Mexico.    

Under Granero, the Sedronar was an agency charged with anti-drug trafficking programs including the regulation of precursor chemicals. In January, however, as reports of illegal activity began to surface, Argentine authorities transferred programs related to combating drug trafficking to the Ministry of National Security. 

Nevertheless, reports of increasingly powerful criminal organizations corrupting state institutions across the country are becoming ever more common, and the issue of criminal infiltration from top officials to street level agents is clearly not limited to this one body.

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