HomeNewsBriefBuenos Aires Hospital Treats 1 Drug Mule a Week

Buenos Aires Hospital Treats 1 Drug Mule a Week


According to figures from the Buenos Aires Ministry of Health, the hospital closest to the city's international airport treats an average of one drug mule a week, an indication of the increased amount of cocaine shipped through Argentina.

Between 2012 and the first five months of 2013, Hospital Ezeiza has treated 80 patients who were caught carrying capsules loaded with cocaine in their digestive systems, Clarin reports. The patients eventually expelled approximately 640 kilos of cocaine.

The hospital has a special unit dedicated to receiving the patients, the majority of whom are men carrying an average of 80 grams of cocaine within their bodies. More than 60 percent of the patients are nationals from countries in the Americas, primarily Peru. Many other of the hospitalized drug mules are South African. 

Approximately two percent of the patients treated in hospital died from ingesting the cocaine capsules. 

According to the director of the hospital unit that specializes in treating the drug mules, traffickers have recently shifted their tactics in an attempt to make it more difficult for airport security to detect smugglers. Starting in 2011, the hospital began receiving patients who had ingested capsules of liquid cocaine, which is more difficult to detect by radiography. Currently, around 40 percent of the patients treated in Ezeiza have ingested liquid cocaine. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The number of patients hospitalized in Ezeiza is one illustration of the amount of cocaine being trafficked from Argentina. The country has the second largest domestic market in the region for cocaine, just after Brazil, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It is also an important transit country for cocaine shipments headed to Europe, as indicated by prominent cases such as the Julia brothers, arrested and sentenced in Spain for chartering a jet loaded with 945 kilos of the drug.  

The numbers from the Buenos Aires health ministry are also indicative of the desperation that may drive some people to agree to become drug mules, especially the three percent of the patients treated by the hospital between 2012 and 2013 who were pregnant.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


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.


Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


Angry mobs in Argentina have recently carried out a series of extrajudicial killings, pointing to widespread distrust in the country's…


The killing of a powerful drug trafficker and the arrest of a top police officer in a strategically located province…


Relatives of imprisoned drug traffickers charged fees from other families to let them in to see their loved ones in…

About InSight Crime


Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…


InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…


InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.


Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…


Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.