Argentina Seizes Nearly 16 Tons of Chemical Precursors

Argentina Seizes Nearly 16 Tons of Chemical Precursors

By Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo
December 13, 2021

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On October 29, 2021, agents of the Argentine National Gendarmerie seized nearly 16 tons of anhydrous ammonia, a chemical precursor used to manufacture cocaine.

Members of the Rosario-Victoria Security Section, deployed at kilometer 5.2 on National Road 174, intercepted a truck that was traveling from Buenos Aires to the province of Entre Ríos. “Upon checking the cargo documentation, officers found that [the truck] was transporting 15,680 kilograms of industrial anhydrous ammonia, without the corresponding legal authorization,” the Gendarmerie indicated in a statement.

According to the Argentine website Minuto Uno, the driver was not registered in the National Registry for Chemical Precursors. “Anhydrous ammonia is used in the production of coca paste and basic cocaine,” says the Chemical Precursors manual of the Argentine Undersecretariat for the Fight Against Drug Trafficking. “It can also be used to prepare ephedrine, a precursor for the production of methamphetamine,” the document adds.

Gendarmes found 759 kg of marijuana hidden among undergrowth in Misiones province, on November 18, 2021. (Photo: Argentine National Gendarmerie)

Also, according to the manual, anhydrous ammonia is an alkaline gas that can dissolve in water to form aqueous ammonia, a colorless liquid. When it has legal endorsement, the substance is used to manufacture cleaning products, such as detergents, fabric softeners, and stain removers, as well as fertilizers, fibers, and plastics.

Nearly 1 ton of marijuana

In a little over a week, the Gendarmerie seized nearly 1 ton of marijuana in two operations.

On November 18, members of the Eldorado Unit of Complex Crimes Investigations and Judicial Procedures saw a truck behaving suspiciously. The vehicle was traveling along National Road 12, near the town of Puerto Esperanza, in Misiones province.

“The driver of the vehicle, upon noticing the presence of the officers, abruptly changed direction and fled at high speed,” the Argentine news site Primera Edición reported. “As a result, the gendarmes searched the area where the vehicle had fled, and they discovered 38 large bags,” the website added. The bags contained 1,154 rectangular packages with 759 kg of marijuana, hidden among the weeds, the Gendarmerie said.

In another operation, on November 10, members of Santo Tomé Squadron 57 found nearly 388 kg of marijuana hidden in a truck. The vehicle was coming from Posadas, Misiones province, and was bound for the town of Avellaneda, in Buenos Aires province. “At the time of the inspection, officers found 17 bags in the toolbox area, the cabin, and the storage area,” the Gendarmerie said.

In all, there were 526 rectangular packages wrapped with duct tape and transparent nylon, the force reported. Narcotest field tests came out positive for cannabis sativa, weighing 387.8 kg. Authorities detained the driver.