HomeNewsBriefRocking Horse Exposes Argentina’s Rising Synthetic Drug Market
BRIEF

Rocking Horse Exposes Argentina’s Rising Synthetic Drug Market

ARGENTINA / 12 JUN 2019 BY JOSEFINA SALOMÓN EN

The seizure of a rocking horse stuffed with a large quantity of methamphetamine traveling from Belgium to Argentina has exposed yet more evidence of the growing market for synthetic drugs in Latin America.

Belgium airport authorities flagged the toy, which contained two kilograms of methamphetamine, to their counterparts in Argentina in early June.

The Europeans replaced most of the drug with sugar but left a small quantity of the product, which led Argentine authorities to raid three homes in the country’s capital, Buenos Aires. Six people, including three Chinese citizens, were arrested and 48 kilograms of ketamine valued at around $2 million were seized as part of the coordinated operation.

SEE ALSO: Argentina News and Profile

Methamphetamine is a powerful and very addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is also used to produce ecstasy, a highly popular drug in Argentina.

Ketamine is a potent sedative that also causes hallucinations. It can be sniffed, smoked or injected and it is often combined with other drugs. It is also becoming increasingly popular across Latin America.

InSight Crime Analysis

The most recent seizure is further evidence that synthetic drugs are gaining ground in Argentina’s expanding domestic market, one that has traditionally favored substances such as cocaine.

Ecstasy consumption rose by 200 percent among young people in the country between 2010 and 2017, according to a study by Argentina’s Secretariat for Integrative Drug Policies (Secretaría de Políticas Integrales sobre Drogas – SEDRONAR).

Most of the synthetic drugs arriving in the South American country originate in Europe -- a manufacturing market that has also expanded in recent years, according to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

More than 40 percent of the nearly 60,000 ecstasy pills seized in Argentina in 2018 originated in Germany and 34 percent in Belgium, according to official figures reported by Infobae.

Experts said that the large quantities traffickers were trying to send to Buenos Aires could point to the expansion of local drug labs.

“We have been documenting a rise in the consumption of methamphetamine. The fact that they are used to make ecstasy might point to the existence of home labs,” Carlos Damin, head of toxicology at the University of Buenos Aires told Clarín.

SEE ALSO: Synthetic ‘Pink Cocaine’ Crossing from Argentina Into Uruguay

The synthetic drug market is a notoriously changing one, with new products surfacing every year.

In an interview with InSight Crime in October, Martín Verrier, the National Security Ministry’s deputy secretary against drug trafficking, described the fight against criminal organizations as a “game of cat and mouse because the organizations are very dynamic.”

He also said Argentina’s current economic crisis might have an impact on the local drug market.

“Drugs are a commodity, so any dramatic variation in the exchange rate affects [trafficking] routes. So far, 99 percent of the synthetic drugs consumed in Argentina come from Europe. At the most, we’ve seen tablet manufacturing [here], but with imported raw materials. Maybe now that it’s more expensive to buy the drugs abroad, we’re keeping an eye out for any attempt at local manufacturing.”

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

ARGENTINA / 29 OCT 2019

Authorities in Argentina dismantled a ring of Chinese nationals who evaded millions of dollars in taxes and laundered money through…

ARGENTINA / 12 NOV 2013

A cocaine processing laboratory has been discovered in Argentina's Patagonia region, an illustration of the increasing spread of the…

EL SALVADOR / 10 MAY 2011

El Salvador's police found 45 barrels of a precursor chemical used to produce methamphetamine, which they say was smuggled into…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.