HomeNewsBriefTop Argentine Official Accused of Heading Precursor Chemical Trafficking Network
BRIEF

Top Argentine Official Accused of Heading Precursor Chemical Trafficking Network

ARGENTINA / 3 AUG 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Allegations that a prominent Argentine politician played a top role in an ephedrine trafficking ring raises the possibility that the drug trade has co-opted Argentina's most powerful elites.

On August 2, the Argentine news program “Periodismo Para Todos” (Journalism for Everyone) broadcast an investigation into a case known as the "Triple Crime” -- which occured in 2008 and involved the murder of three businessman in the pharmaceutical industry: Sebastian Forza, Leopoldo Bina, and Damian Ferron.

As part of the program, host Jorge Lanata interviewed Martin Lanatta, one of four people convicted of the crime and currently serving a life prison sentence (see video below).

Lanatta accused Anibal Fernandez -- a member of Argentina's Justicialist Party and current Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers -- of being the “intellectual author” of the murders. According to Lanatta, Fernandez -- in collaboration with agents from Argentina’s Secretariat of Intelligence (SIDE) -- ordered the killings. The murders were meant to consolidate control over the ephedrine trafficking trade -- a precursor chemical for producing methamphetamine and other designer drugs -- and strengthen ties with Mexican cartels, Lanatta said.

Jose Luis Salerno, a former police officer and business associate of Damian Ferron, also accused Fernandez of leading an ephedrine trafficking network with links to Mexican cartels (see video below).

This is the second time Fernandez has been implicated in the Triple Crime, with Congresswoman Graciela Ocaña linking him in 2013.

Fernandez has forcefully denied these most recent allegations, saying he does not know and never had any dealings with Lanatta.

InSight Crime Analysis

In recent years, Argentina has become an increasingly important hub for Latin America’s drug trade, with lax regulations turning it into a major transit hub for precursor chemicals used in drug production. Evidence suggests these chemicals are trafficked to Mexican cartels, such as the Sinaloa Cartel, which has reportedly set up operations in Argentina.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

The growing presence of transnational drug networks in Argentina has led to increased concerns over official involvement in drug trafficking. 

Indeed -- while previous scandals involving the illicit importation of precursor chemicals have involved high-level government officials -- these allegations will fuel speculation that the country’s top political elites have been co-opted by the drug trade.

Nonetheless, Lanatta’s allegations must be approached cautiously as -- condemned to spend his life behind bars -- he has little to lose by making spurious accusations. Indeed, it is unclear why Lanatta decided to implicate Fernandez now and not during his trial. Fernandez has also accused the opposition of political machinations ahead of October elections.

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 / 3 DEC 2021

Amid a spate of attacks on drug stash houses in the city of Rosario, Argentina, residents have taken to painting…

ARGENTINA / 6 JUN 2022

A series of arrests have highlighted how Chinese organized crime maintains a strong influence in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

COLOMBIA / 14 DEC 2021

Prosecutors in Colombia have dismissed a criminal libel case filed by accused paramilitary drug lord Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo, alias…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…