In two consecutive operations, the Argentine National Gendarmerie seized two narco-aircraft. In the first operation, on September 29, 2021, the gendarmes seized a twin-engine aircraft with a Uruguayan tail number from a hangar in the Argentine city of Concordia, Entre Ríos province. The seizure was made possible thanks to information exchange with Uruguay’s Police and Air Force.
Investigators found that the aircraft was conducting irregular flights that began in Paraguay, where criminals loaded the drug, and then continued to Uruguay, where the drug entered the market. “These transfers also included the province of Entre Ríos, Argentina, where [criminals] made operational and logistics connections,” the Gendarmerie said in a statement.
Days before, on September 26, the light aircraft had landed in a field in Artigas department, Uruguay, where the Uruguayan Police seized 400 kilograms of cocaine base paste. “The plane spent four minutes in a field in the Baltasar Brum area, where the drug was unloaded. However, the Uruguayan Police could not intercept the shipment, so authorities notified the Argentine Gendarmerie to continue the search,” the Uruguayan newspaper La Diaria reported.
The Gendarmerie found the aircraft three days later in Concordia, after conducting six raids. The personnel also found two shotguns, five revolvers, GPS equipment, and $52,300 near the aircraft. “The Gendarmerie’s Anti-drug Directorate, the Buenos Aires Anti-drug Investigation Unit, the Gualeguaychú Criminal Unit, and the Concepción del Uruguay and Concordia Operational Units participated in the joint operation,” the Argentine Ministry of Security reported. Three Argentines were detained.
Following the seizure in Concordia, the Gendarmerie resumed investigations to dismantle the criminal group. On October 1, service members raided an airfield in the city of San Pedro, Buenos Aires province, where they found another aircraft.
“It’s a single-engine aircraft, registered in Argentina,” the Gendarmerie indicated. Agents also seized memory cards, GPS equipment, and documentation to continue with data collection efforts.
“The operation was a triangulation of illegal drug trafficking through irregular flights that transferred drugs from Paraguay to their destination in Uruguay, using Argentine territory only as a base for air logistics supply,” the Gendarmerie said.
According to the Argentine news agency Telam, the main hypothesis is that the transnational organization uses a field in Entre Ríos province to cross into Uruguay due to its proximity. According to the agency, investigators believe that the narcotraffickers use a third aircraft that was seen landing in Uruguayan fields. “A search is under way for that third aircraft, whose registration number has already been identified, in Argentine hangars,” Telam reported.