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Cablegate: Major Drug Seizure Nets International Traffickers and 142

VZCZCXYZ0005
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #0103 0591548
ZNY EEEEE ZZH (CCY AD651F48 MSI9951-695)
O 281548Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7984
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCNMER/MESUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0338

UNCLAS MONTEVIDEO 000103

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
NOFORN
SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION AND CLASSIFICATION

STATE FOR INL/LP JHIDES

MESUR COLLECTIVE FOR DEA
MEXICO CITY FOR DEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM UY MX BL BR PA XM XR

SUBJECT: MAJOR DRUG SEIZURE NETS INTERNATIONAL TRAFFICKERS AND 142
KILOS OF COCAINE; URUGUAY AS TRANSIT POINT

REF: BUENOS AIRES 00227

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU/NF) SUMMARY: The Uruguayan National Police arrested 11
alleged drug traffickers and seized 142 kilos of cocaine in the
third significant bust since 2006. The plane used to transport the
cocaine was also seized. DEA Buenos Aires-Southern Cone was
actively involved in the investigation and operation, dubbed Razor
Wire. While this highlights the growing effectiveness of the
Uruguayan drug police, it also demonstrates that Uruguay is becoming
a major transit point for drug smuggling. We believe the fact that
a known Mexican drug cartel was involved suggests that these drugs
may have been intended for the U.S. market. This investigation
remains ongoing in Uruguay. Further law enforcement action is also
anticipated in Bolivia. END SUMMARY.

OPERATION RAZOR WIRE
--------------------

2. (SBU/NF) On February 21-22 the Uruguayan National Police arrested
Ismail Ruiz-Casillas (a Mexican national) and ten other individuals
and seized 142 kilograms of cocaine following a year-long
investigation into the drug trafficking activities of the Ismail
Ruiz-Casillas organization. Uruguayan and Bolivian police monitored
the group's cell phones and investigations by DEA offices in the
Southern Cone, Miami FD, SOD and DEA Mexico (and corresponding
counterparts) indicated that up to 400 kilograms of cocaine would be
smuggled into Uruguay on February 21. Uruguayan police surveilled
the arrival of the plane at a clandestine field in the Northern part
of Uruguay. Surveillance continued as the alleged traffickers drove
the cocaine south to the seaport of Montevideo, where the seizure
and arrests were made.

3. (SBU/NF) Uruguayan police also seized and searched the airplane,
yielding GPS coordinates of the flight path showing that the plane
had flown a Bolivia-Brazil-Paraguay route before landing in Uruguay.
The coordinates were passed to the Santa Cruz police and DEA Santa
Cruz.

4. (SBU/NF) So far, 11 arrests have been made: five Mexican
nationals, two Bolivian pilots, one Uruguayan and three others whose
nationality remains undetermined. Bolivia and Uruguay continue to
conduct further investigations related to this seizure.

NOTABLE RECENT SEIZURES
-----------------------

5. (SBU/NF) This marks the third significant load of cocaine seized
in Uruguay in cooperation with the DEA Buenos Aires-Southern Cone
Operations since September 2006:

September 2006: Operation Platinum Fist-ZA-06-0016. Approximately
400 kilos seized in Uruguay in cooperation with DEA Brazil.

August 2007: Operation San Francisco-ZA-07-0025. Approximately 483
kilos seized in Uruguay in cooperation with DEA Brazil.

February 2008: Operation Razor Wire-ZA-07-0052 (ongoing). 142 kilos
seized to date in Uruguay in cooperation with DEA Bolivia.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU/NF) COMMENT: Operation Razor Wire demonstrates the
impressive work of the Uruguayan Directorate General for the
Repression of the Illicit Drug Trafficking (DGRTID), and its chief
Julio Guarteche. The quantity of cocaine seized was substantial,
but the successful arrest of known international drug traffickers
was more important by far. This and the two previous operations
indicate that Uruguay is increasingly becoming a major transit point
for international drug trafficking. DEA believes this latest
shipment may have been destined for North America, possibly a
reaction by the Mexican cartel to interdiction pressure along its
traditional routes into the U.S. Post will continue to seek
additional resources and training to support the key role of DGRTID
in this fight.

BAXTER

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