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Cocaine smuggling kingpin's detention means gang’s elimination — Argentine authorities

March 02, 17:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The mastermind's detention in Germany meant that the gang "has been eliminated"

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Argentina's Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich

Argentina's Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich

© AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. Since Russian citizen Andrei Kovalchuk, the alleged mastermind behind the smuggling of cocaine from Argentina to Europe, has been detained in Germany, his drug gang does not exist anymore, Argentina’s Telam news agency reported on Friday, citing the country’s Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich.

According to Bullrich, Kovalchuk was "the mastermind and leader of a criminal drug group." She added that his detention in Germany meant that the gang "has been eliminated."

The Argentine security minister also wrote on Twitter that "Andrei Kovalchuk… has been seized in Germany, which means that all the gang members who operated in Argentina and Russia have been captured."

Kovalchuk, accused of organizing the smuggling of cocaine from Argentine to Russia and other European countries, was detained last night on the outskirts of the German capital of Berlin at Interpol's request.

Cocaine smuggling case

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that Russian and Argentine law enforcement agencies had carried out a joint operation to prevent the smuggling of a large shipment of cocaine (389 kilos) to Europe. Russian and Argentine nationals were detained during the operation. According to the FSB press service, five suspects have been detained so far (three in Russia and two in Argentina), while another one - the alleged mastermind - has been put on the wanted list.

A criminal case in this connection was launched on November 15, 2017. In December, three suspects - Ishtimir Khudzhamov, Ali Abyanov and Vladimir Kalmykov - were arrested. Kovalchuk, the fourth defendant in the case, was put on the international wanted list. The preliminary investigation into the case has been extended until April 15.

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