07:00 GMT +310 December 2019
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    German Police Detain Main Suspect in Russia-Argentina Drug Case - Lawyer

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Andrei Kovalchuk, the suspected organizer of the attempt to smuggle drugs from Argentina to Russia, was detained in Germany by local police, Vladimir Zherebenkov, Kovalchuk's lawyer, told Sputnik.

    "[Kovalchuk's] wife called me in the night and told me that police detained him because of the search-related issue. The issue of extradition will be dealt with," Zherebenkov said.

    According to the lawyer, German police officers came to the flat of the Kovalchuks and detained him, however, they said they would not extradite the suspect without evidence and would consider this issue.

    Zherebenkov added that at the moment he was engaged in the search for a Russian-speaking lawyer, specializing in the extradition-related cases.

    On Reports of Gov't Jet Involvement in "Cocaine case"

    Russian Presidential Property Department Head Aleksandr Kolpakov refuted to Sputnik media reports that an aircraft from the special flight detachment “Russia,” which is run by the department, was involved in the so-called Russian-Argentinean "cocaine case", explaining that the detachment was providing transportation of senior officials, not cargoes.

    “We provide [transportation of] senior officials. And as for cargoes — there are special agencies for it… We do not handle cargoes,” the official said, when asked whether the special detachment’s jet was on the pictures.

    On Monday, Russia's RBC news agency reported that a Russian Ilyushin Il-96 aircraft could be involved in the smuggling of cocaine from Argentina and cited photos published by the Argentinian police, which depicted suitcases being loaded onto the plane.

    In February, the security forces of Russia and Argentina thwarted a shipment of 389 kilograms (857 pounds) of cocaine to Moscow. A joint anti-drug operation started in December 2016, when the Russian Embassy in Argentina found several bags with cocaine in one of its buildings.

    Russian diplomats alerted Argentinean police about the discovery. On Monday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said that Kovalchuk, a former technical staff member at the embassy, was hiding in Germany and was wanted by the INTERPOL.

    READ MORE: Russian Embassy: Detained 'Drug Mule' Has No Relation to 'Cocaine Case'

    A group of people, namely Vladimir Kalmykov, Ishtimir Khudzhamov and Ali Abyanov, have been detained in Moscow on charges of drug-related activities within the drug smuggling case. The decision about the detention of these three people was made in December, however, this information has been made public only after the revelations made by the authorities of Russia and Argentina. Kovalchuk is suspected of uniting these people in an organized criminal group.


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    Drug Smuggling, arrest, police, Germany, Russia, Argentina
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