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German authorities arrest Russian national over massive cocaine smuggling enterprise

March 6, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
German authorities arrest Russian national over massive cocaine smuggling enterprise

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A Russian citizen has been detained in Germany for his role in an extensive cocaine smuggling enterprise that has made headlines in Russia and around the globe.

In a statement on Twitter, Berlin’s State Prosecutor said that on Thursday, police “arrested a 49-year-old Russian in the Scharmuetzelsee area because of a Russian arrest request. Accusation: Founding of a criminal enterprise with the aim of smuggling cocaine from Argentina to Russia.”

Russian press outlets identified the suspect as Andrei Kovalchuk. Vladimir Zherebenkov, an attorney for Kovalchuk, told the Russian news agency TASS that his client had been apprehended at his residence in a Berlin suburb, and that the German government was considering an extradition request.

Zherebenkov added that his client rejects any guilt in the case.

According to CNN, Argentine authorities announced last week the seizure of 389 kilos of cocaine that had been recovered on the property of the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires in 2016.

The case led to a media firestorm in Russia, with reporters raising questions about how diplomatic facilities had become involved in an alleged drug trafficking enterprise.

The Russian government said that it contacted Argentine authorities about the alleged activity and jointly conducted an international probe that resulted in several arrests.

Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told CNN that one individual connected to the ring had initially had remained at large. She called him “the famous Mr. K.”

Bullrich said the man was a “Russian, a businessman who had a lot of connections and didn’t earn his money working.”

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