Two new defendants in 'Cocaine case' declared internationally wanted

Two new defendants in 'Cocaine case' declared internationally wanted
Seizure of cocaine found in a school by Argentine gendarmes in December 2016

The identities of the wanted persons are not revealed. It is only known that they are acquaintances of former officers of the Russian diplomatic mission in Buenos Aires, one of whom is a defendant in this case.

Apart from the five defendants in the high-profile case of smuggling of a large consignment of cocaine from Argentina to Russia, two more persons have been put on the international wanted list, an informed source told Interfax.

The source did not clarify the identity of the wanted persons, noting only that they are acquaintances of former officers of the Russian diplomatic mission in Argentine, one of whom is a defendant in this case.

To recall, almost 400 kg of cocaine (initially, such an estimate was given, then the weight dropped to 362 kg) was discovered in 12 suitcases in a school at the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires in December 2016.

The secret investigation by the Argentine and Russian law enforcement officers lasted more than a year. It was former Russian ambassador to Argentina Viktor Koronelli who reported the discovery to Argentine security officials.  After that, the suitcases with drugs were equipped with GPS sensors, and cocaine was replaced with flour. Later, under the control of special services, the cargo was sent to Russia to uncover the entire chain of smugglers.

Persons suspected of illegal drug deliveries – former embassy attendant Ali Abyanov and businessmen Vladimir Kalmykov and Ishtimir Khudzhamov – were shortly detained in Russia; in Argentina, law enforcement officers arrested police officer Ivan Bliznyuk and ship mechanic Aleksandr Chikalo, and the alleged organizer of drug trafficking, Andrey Kovalchuk, was detained in Germany. In July, he was brought to Russia and placed under arrest in the pre-trial detention center Matrosskaya Tishina. Argentine media reported that the drugs had been planned to be transported by a diplomatic post, but Official Representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, denied this. August 21, the cocaine found in the Russian embassy was burned in one of the crematoria of Buenos Aires in the presence of Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and the new Russian ambassador to Argentina who replaced Viktor Koronelli, Dmitry Feoktistov.

Meanwhile, the investigation materials of the attempt at smuggling of almost 400 kg of cocaine through the Russian diplomatic mission had been referred to the Argentine court, as reported by Novoe Vremya in June 2018 referring to the lawyer of defendants Ivan Bliznyuk and Aleksandr Chikalo, Liliana Borisyuk. The publication reported that the trial was to be held in open court in late autumn 2018.

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