HomeNewsBrief‘Cocaine Rice’ Sparks Argentina Probe into Colombia Narcos
BRIEF

'Cocaine Rice' Sparks Argentina Probe into Colombia Narcos

ARGENTINA / 6 OCT 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

Argentina's authorities believe a criminal network from Colombia was behind a major drug export operation, indicative of the prominent role that Colombians continue to play in the region's transnational drug trade. 

In a series of raids conducted between September 17-19, Argentine custom officials found over 1,000 bags of rice infused with some 20 kilograms of cocaine on a ship bound to the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau. They went on to arrest nine Colombians and three Argentines in what has come to be known as the "Narco Rice" case, reported La Nacion.

The cocaine-infused rice was reportedly a trial run for the drug trafficking group, who planned to use this technique to smuggle larger drug shipments to Europe. The group is reportedly headed by Colombian nationals Williams Triana Peña and his brother Erman, who allegedly established themselves in Argentina in 2012. They have been linked to various Colombian cartels, most recently the Urabeños

The Colombian drug ring relied on a wide-ranging network of collaborators in Argentina, including an oncologist who developed the technique for fusing cocaine onto rice. Other alleged members included an ex-Colombian police officer and the former deputy secretary at Argentina's Interior Ministry, who was reportedly instrumental in settiung up several front companies used to launder dirty money. 

The criminal group's activities first came to the attention of the authorities in 2011, following several drug seizures, reported InfobaeIn 2012, members of the criminal network made contact with an Eastern European criminal group, a separate La Nacion report said, citing the United Kingdom's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA). The Eastern European group was reportedly looking to open a new drug route from Argentina to Europe. 

The Triana Peña brothers and many other suspected leaders of the operation remain at large. 

15-10-05HermanosTPea

La Nacion's profile on suspects in the Narco Rice case

InSight Crime Analysis

This case is illustrative of several wider dynamics in Argentina's transnational drug trade. The first is the ongoing importance of Colombian-run criminal organizations based in Argentina. Top-level Colombian drug traffickers and their associates have previously used the country as a hide-out and as a place to do business. While there are also multiple examples of sophisticated drug trafficking organizations being run primarily by Argentines, the Narco Rice case is evidence that Colombian nationals continue to play a major role in running transnational drug trafficking operations in Argentina. 

SEE ALSO: Argentina News and Coverage

Additionally, the group's reported use of an ex-Interior Ministry employee to lauder funds is indicative of how the drug trade is capable of corrupting officials at all levels in Argentina.  This recently prompted the former head of the Buenos Aires police force to compare Argentina's current state of affairs to the Colombia of Pablo Escobar 

It is also unsurprising that this criminal network made contact with a mafia group based in Eastern Europe. The European market has become increasingly important for Latin America's drug trafficking networks, and members of the Italian mafia in particular have been known to use Argentina as a refuge

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.

DONATE

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.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 7 MAR 2012

Eleven oil workers kidnapped last month in Colombia's northeast were released by the ELN guerrilla gorup, according to…

COLOMBIA / 5 JAN 2011

In a two-month operation with Interpol, Colombian police rescued 10,000 animals as part of an offensive against eco traffickers in…

ARGENTINA / 13 JUL 2017

A customs fraud that allegedly allowed a criminal network to steal millions from Argentina's government looks eerily similar to how…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…