MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Alleged organizer of smuggling cocaine from Argentina to Russia and to the European market Andrei Kovalchuk has never worked for the Russian Foreign Ministry, the ministry’s Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.
"We dug through all archives and looked through all the papers. Kovalchuk has never worked for the Foreign Ministry or for the Embassy," Zakharova told the Govorit Moskva radio station.
Earlier on Friday, the lawyer for Kovalchuk said his client had been detained in his house in a Berlin suburb at night. Germany will decide on his extradition to Russia, Vladimir Zherebenkov told TASS.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry earlier reported that the law enforcement agencies from Russia and Argentina had conducted a joint sting operation to bust a delivery channel of a large batch of narcotics (389 kg of cocaine) to the European market. Law enforcement officials from both countries detained citizens of Russia and Argentina on suspicion of being involved in drug trafficking.
According to the Russian Federal Security Service, five suspects have been detained so far (three in Russia and two in Argentina), while another one, Kovalchuk - the alleged mastermind - has been put on the international wanted list.
Russia launched a criminal investigation into drug trafficking on November 15, 2017. In December, three suspects - Ishtimir Khudzhamov, Ali Abyanov and Vladimir Kalmykov - were arrested. A preliminary investigation into the case has been extended until April 15.