The discovery of over 67,000 ecstasy pills smuggled from Germany into Argentina sheds light on the supply-side dynamics of the country's rapidly growing synthetic drug trade.
Authorities have detected two shipments of ecstasy pills from Germany to central Argentina over the course of the past month, reported La Nación. The drugs were allegedly produced in the Netherlands and sold to an Argentine group by a transnational drug trafficking organization based in Germany.
According to Argentina's Defense Ministry, authorities seized 34,000 doses of ecstasy in June and 33,012 more in July at customs in the port of Paraná. A third cargo ship is currently being monitored by federal forces, La Nación reported. The drugs were meant for consumption within the city and had a total value of $1.36 million, according to authorities.
Narcotics specialists from the Federal Police noted that the pills' logo of a female body had not been registered in the country, which could indicate the incursion of a new supplier looking to capitalize on Argentina's growing consumption of synthetic drugs.
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The Argentine criminal group sought to avoid the more stringent interdiction standards implemented in Buenos Aires and northern Argentina, and used false documents to collect the hidden drug deliveries, Defense Minister Patricia Bullrich said during a presentation on the investigation.
InSight Crime Analysis
These seizures reveal European criminal groups continue to play an important role in supplying synthetic drugs to Latin America.
Europe, and in particular the Netherlands, was originally the main source of ecstasy for the Latin American market. According to some media reports, European criminals controlled the ecstasy trade and would trade it for cocaine.
Nevertheless, the profitability of ecstasy -- which can be sold at higher prices than cocaine and is easier to smuggle -- and an increase in local consumption appear to have driven a rise in synthetic drug production in Argentina over the past few years. Authorities busted the first ecstasy laboratory in Buenos Aires in 2013, and since then have continued to seize large amounts of synthetic drugs from domestic laboratories.
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The recent seizures, however, indicate local production is not yet capable of satisfying the Argentine population's growing demand for ecstasy, and that the market is still reliant on European suppliers.