Investigation apprises Argentine cocaine
A drug smuggling case has been completed.
The investigation of a high-profile criminal case on the illegal supply of cocaine from Argentina to Russia has been completed. According to the Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, businessman Andrey Kovalchuk, with the support of the former farm manager of the Russian embassy in Argentina, Ali Abyanov, organized the transfer of about 400 kg of drug under the guise of diplomatic mail. However, the security forces stopped the supply of cocaine, four defendants were arrested. None of them plead guilty. Andrey Kovalchuk insists that he was supplying extremely expensive coffees and cigars to Russia.
The lawyers reported on the fact that the MIA completed the investigation of the cocaine case, Kommersant states. So, Alexander Korotants, representing the interests of the accused Ali Abyanov, said that he had already got acquainted with the case materials, which counts 24 volumes. According to the lawyer, Ali Abyanov rejects any involvement in the supply of drugs. “He only helped Andrey Kovalchuk, who asked him about it, and this is all his fault,” said the defender. According to Kommersant, three other defendants in the investigation also do not recognize their guilt.
They are charged with Attempted Smuggling of Drugs (part 3 of Article 30 and part 4 of Article 229.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), as well as an Attempted to Illegally Manufacture, Sell or Ship Narcotic Drugs on a large scale (part 3 of Article 30 and part 5 of Article 228.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). However, the accused unanimously claim that they planned to deliver several suitcases with expensive Luwak coffee, cigars and semiprecious stones to Moscow. How it turned out that suitcases were full of cocaine, persons involved in the case do not know. At the same time, the alleged organizer of drug trafficking, businessman Andrey Kovalchuk, who recently resided in Germany and was extradited, refused to answer the questions of the investigation, referring to Art. 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. It should be noted that Andrey Kovalchuk changed his lawyer: Vladimir Zherebenkov, who represented him throughout the entire investigation, refused to protect the businessman. The lawyer did not explain the reasons for his decision, however, according to Kommersant, the change of lawyer is associated with financial difficulties.
The cocaine case was initiated after the Argentine police and FSB officers conducted a joint operation, which resulted in the discovery of 12 suitcases with drugs in the outhouse of the school where the children of the staff of the Russian diplomatic mission were studying. Cocaine was seized, and the security officers traced where they would be sent. As a result, on December 12, 2017, Ali Abyanov, former employee of the Komsomol Central Committee Vladimir Kalmykov and businessman Ishtimir Khudzhamov were detained while trying to get the bags brought from Buenos Aires. The alleged organizer of drug delivery, a native of the Chernivtsi region of Ukraine, Andrey Kovalchuk, was detained by the German police in 2018. The local law enforcement officers were notified on the whereabouts by officers from the K Department of the Economic Security Service of the FSB, which provided operational support for this investigation.
According to the final version of the investigation, in 2016, Andrey Kovalchuk purchased 382 kg of cocaine, which were packed in suitcases and, at the request of a businessman, hidden in school back room by his old acquaintance Ali Abyanov. The latter also wrapped the suitcases with special paper and sealed them on top with wax seals, as is usually done with diplomatic mail. At the same time, data and mobile number of Andrey Kovalchuk were indicated on each trunk. However, it was not possible to take the cargo to Moscow right away, since Ali Abyanov breached the contract and returned to his homeland. His shiftman, who decided to make an inventory of embassy property, discovered suspicious suitcases on November 25, 2016. He reported his find to the embassy security officers, who, after opening the suitcases, notified the FSB operatives .
As it turned out during the investigation, Ali Abyanov shipped “very heavy suitcases” to Moscow at the request of Andrey Kovalchuk several times earlier receiving $1 thousand for each. He always packed the cargo as diplomatic mail, and sent it to Russia military transport aviation. However, these episodes were not included in the final accusation.