HomeNewsBriefArgentina President’s Office Embroiled in Precursor Chemical Trafficking Scandal
BRIEF

Argentina President’s Office Embroiled in Precursor Chemical Trafficking Scandal

ARGENTINA / 2 SEP 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

The president’s office in Argentina has become ensnared in a drug production precursor chemical trafficking scandal as the high level corrupt contacts that facilitate the trade are revealed in an ongoing investigation.

On August 29, Judge Maria Servini de Cubria told Mitre Radio she was investigating phone calls made between officials in the presidential residence, the “Casa Rosada” (Pink House) and the Zacarias family, which has ties to the administration of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and has been implicated in trafficking ephedrine — a chemical used for methamphetamine production

Servini said she had requested the General Secretary of the Presidency, Oscar Parrilli, identify the officials who used the telephone numbers, and threatened to order a raid on the Casa Rosada if Parrilli failed to comply.

Three days later, Parrilli publically identified the officials who were in charge of the offices linked to the phone numbers during the period between 2004 and 2008, which included two former vice presidents, two former cabinet chiefs and Parrilli himself, reported Urgente 24.

InSight Crime Analysis

In July, six former officials of Argentine anti-drug agency Sedronar, including former director Jose Ramon Granero, were accused of facilitating the importation of ephedrine by changing the documentation on the intended use of the substance.

The alleged involvement of members of the Zacarias family in the scheme is bad news for the Kirchner administration. Maximo Zacarias was implicated in the trafficking network after a former Sedronar employee accused him of participating in the importation of 1000 kilos of ephedrine. His brother Miguel was Granero’s private secretary, his brother Ruben was the former chief of protocol in the Government Ministry, and his brother Luis works in President Kirchner’s Private Secretary.    

Although there is currently no evidence linking the president to the ephedrine trafficking network, both Cristina Kirchner and her predecessor and husband, the late Nestor Kirchner, have faced past accusations of their ties to the illegal trade in precursor chemicals. Pharmaceutical companies were some of the Kirchners’ biggest campaign funders, and many of their donors have alleged links with the drug trade and Mexican cartels (pdf). 

Argentina is a major producer and transit point for chemicals used to produce cocaine and methamphetamine, partly because of lax regulations on substances like ephedrine. While the extent of the current government’s involvement in the ephedrine trafficking scandal has yet to be determined, the current case points to political protection as one factor contributing to the country’s role in precursor trafficking. 

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 MAY 2017

Guatemala's former Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla is facing yet another set of legal charges related to his time in…

ARGENTINA / 21 DEC 2016

Authorities in Argentina are considering a proposal to establish treatment for drug addiction as an alternative to incarceration for people…

ELITES AND CRIME / 30 MAR 2015

Marllory Chacon Rossell pleaded guilty on December 12, 2014 to drug trafficking charges in Miami, but she had been collaborating…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …