Cablegate: Argentina: 2007 Inscr Part I: Drugs


DE RUEHBU #2296/01 3391740
O 051740Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


The following is Embassy Buenos Aires input for Part I of the 2007
International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).

Begin Text:

Argentina: Draft 2007 INCSR

I. Summary:

Argentina is not a producer country but continues to be a transit
country for cocaine from Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia, primarily to
European destinations. Argentina is also a transit route for
Colombian heroin en route to the United States and a source for
precursor chemicals because of its advanced chemical production
facilities. National drug seizure statistics remain somewhat
incomplete but preliminary numbers show increased cocaine seizures
the first two quarters of 2007 in comparison to the same period in
2006. Authorities also report an increase in the number of small
labs converting cocaine base to cocaine hydrochloride (HCl).
Marijuana seizures, which had dropped in 2005, appear to be back up
in 2006. Argentina is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Argentina is not a major drug producing country. However, because
of its advanced chemical production facilities, it is one of South
America's largest producers of precursor chemicals, which are
vulnerable to diversion for use in the processing of cocaine and
production of other narcotics. Law enforcement authorities believe
that the amount of cocaine passing through Argentina continued to
increase in 2007. Marijuana remains the most commonly smuggled and
consumed drug, with cocaine (HCl) and inhalants ranked second and
third, respectively. Narcotics enter Argentina primarily from
Bolivia, but also from Paraguay and Brazil. Argentine law
enforcement intercepted small amounts of Colombian heroin destined
for the United States. Seizures of amphetamine-type stimulants and
Ecstasy, principally smuggled from Europe, are increasing. Cocaine
HCl seizures increased significantly over the past few years. For
CY-2006, UFIDRO, the Prosecutorial Support Unit for the
Investigation of Complex Offenses and Organized Crime, reported a
total of 8,077 kilograms of cocaine HCl seized, a 66.7% increase
over 2005. UFIDRO and SEDRONAR, the Secretariat of Planning for the
Prevention of Drug Addiction and Fight Against Narcotrafficking,
report similar increases in the seizures of coca leaf and marijuana
in the first six months of 2007. The then-record of 5,399 kilograms
seized in CY-2005 represented a 159% increase from the 2,087
kilograms of cocaine HCl seized in Argentina during CY-2001, and a
77% increase from the 3,048 kilograms of cocaine HCl seized during
the previous year of CY-2004 alone.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs.

Policy Initiatives

The GOA targets the trafficking, sale, and use of illegal narcotics.
In its continuing efforts to better coordinate national and
provincial counternarcotics efforts, and to better collect, analyze
and store narcotics and precursor chemical evidence, the Ministry of
Interior issued a series of resolutions to include:

Resolution 787 stipulated monthly meetings under the auspices of the
Council for Internal Security made up of representatives from the
federal security agencies, provinces, Customs and Internal Revenue
(AFIP) and focused specifically on counternarcotics to: advise on
increasing efficiency in combating serious and complex drug crimes;
collect and share information; develop recommendations for
coordination between federal and provincial forces; and promote
recommendations for concrete action. Res. 787 also created a
Scientific Advisory Committee to advise the Ministry.

Res. 788 created a Unified Registry for the Analysis of
Narcotrafficking (RUAN) to help design, develop, implement and
maintain a database unifying data on drug complaints, investigations
and arrests.

Res. 790 instructed the Federal Police, Gendarmeria (Border Guard),
Prefectura Naval (Coast Guard) and Airport Police to implement a
protocol for collecting information and creating a database on the
analyses of seizures of coca paste, the cocaine by-product "paco,"
cocaine and precursor chemicals, and other pertinent data to
subsequently be registered in the RUAN (see above).

Res. 791 instructed the various drug analysis laboratories of the
security forces to establish common protocols for analysis,
information, storage, and data bases to be shared with the RUAN.

Res. 793 instructed federal law enforcement agencies to develop
common protocols to ensure the preservation, transport and custody
of seized drugs and chemicals.

Res. 794 instructed the Directorate of Criminal Intelligence (DIC)
to develop specific techniques - including special training - for an
undercover narcotic agent program.

Res. 795 and 796 established the formation of an interagency
training unit for the investigation of serious and complex
narcotrafficking and organized crimes, and creates an interchange
program between federal and provincial law enforcement agencies.

As part of the 2005-2007 National Drug Plan, SEDRONAR initiated and
conducted numerous training activities, seminars, and conferences
related to prevention, assistance and narcotrafficking control to
federal and provincial authorities

Law Enforcement Efforts

The Ministry of Interior, in coordination with the Secretariat of
Planning for the Prevention of Drug Addiction and Fight Against
Narcotrafficking (SEDRONAR), directs federal narcotics policy. The
primary federal forces involved are the Federal Police, the
Gendarmeria, the National Air Police (PSA), and the Prefectura Naval
(Coast Guard), which fall under the control of the Ministry of
Interior, and Aduanas (Customs), which is under the Federal Internal
Revenue Agency (AFIP). Provincial police forces also play an
integral part in counternarcotics operations. The Argentine justice
system is currently being transformed from an inquisitive system to
an accusatorial one. However, due to remaining vestiges of the
slower, less-efficient inquisitorial system, confidence in the legal
system remained low in 2007 because of excessive delays between
arrest and final judicial rulings, as well as a lack of judicial
transparency. Presidential decrees placed controls on precursor and
essential chemicals, requiring that all manufacturers, importers or
exporters, transporters, and distributors of these chemicals be
registered with SEDRONAR.

Complete federal statistics on seizures continue to be difficult to
determine as two agencies, SEDRONAR and UFIDRO (Prosecutorial
Support Unit for the Investigation of Complex Offenses and Organized
Crime) maintain different databases. UFIDRO began collecting
seizure data from the Federal Law Enforcement Agencies and Customs
in 2006. SEDRONAR, which has historically compiled the seizure
databases, no longer receives information from the federal agencies
but continues to compile data from provincial police forces.

Preliminary data from both UFIDRO and SEDRONAR for the first six
months of 2007 sow a continuing trend of increased seizures of
cocaine, cocaine leaf and marijuana. In the first semester of 2007,
federal and provincial law enforcement agencies seized 5,373
kilograms of cocaine, compared to a total of 8,079 kilograms for all
of 2006, and 5,399 kilograms in 2005. Federal and provincial forces
seized 35,205 kilograms of coca leaf in the first semester of 2007,
compared to a total of 49,564 kilograms in all of 2006, and 52,928
kilograms in 2005. In the first semester of 2007, federal and
provincial forces seized 49,661 kilograms of marijuana, compared to
93,544 kilograms in all of 2006, and 36,482 kilograms in 2005.
Seizures of cocaine paste in the first semester of 2007 were 13.6
kilograms, compared to the annual seizures for 2006 of 39.7
kilograms, and 9.7 kilograms in 2005. For FY-2005 the DEA assisted
in the seizure of 69.1 kilograms of heroin in Argentina. Seizure
data from UFIDRO and SEDRONAR show a total of 50.827 kilograms of
heroin seized in CY 2006.


The GOA is publicly committed to fighting corruption and prosecuting
those implicated in corruption investigations. It is not government
policy nor are any senior GOA officials known to engage in,
encourage, or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of
narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances or the
laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Confidence
in the legal system remained low in 2007 because of excessive delays
between arrest and final judicial rulings, as well as a lack of
judicial transparency.

Agreements and Treaties

Argentina is a party to the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime and two of its protocols (trafficking in persons and
alien smuggling), but has not yet ratified the third protocol
(firearms). The United States and Argentina are parties to an
extradition treaty that entered into force on June 14, 2000, and a
bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty that entered into force on
February 9, 1994. Both of these agreements are actively used by the
United States. The GOA has bilateral narcotics cooperation
agreements with many neighboring countries. Spain, the United
Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, Italy and the Netherlands
provide limited training and equipment support. Argentina is a party
to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In 1990, the U.S. Customs and Border
Protection signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement with the
government of Argentina. This agreement provides a basis for the
exchange of information to prevent, investigate and redress any
offense against the customs laws of the United States or Argentina


Opium Poppy Cultivation: No reporting exists that indicates opium
poppy is being cultivated in Argentina.

Coca Cultivation: No reporting exists that indicates coca is being
cultivated in Argentina. However, there has been increased
reporting regarding small-scale base to HCl conversion labs in
Argentina, with some of the labs being controlled by Colombian
criminal organizations. Argentine press reporting indicates that
there has been an increase in the number of small kitchen labs
converting cocaine base to HCl, or even producing cocaine base.
SEDRONAR reports the following number of labs seized by year:
CY-2000, 8; CY-2001, 6; CY-2002, 11; CY-2003, 10; CY-2004, 20;
CY-2005, 13; CY- 2006, 7 HC1 labs, 1 cocaine base lab, and 2
precursor chemical labs. In the first six months of CY 2007, 6 HC1
labs and 2 cocaine base labs.

Cannabis: There were no reports of any relevant cultivation of
cannabis in Argentina in 2007.

Drug Flow/Transit


Marijuana is the most trafficked drug within Argentina. Almost all
of the marijuana consumed in Argentina originates in Paraguay and is
smuggled across the border primarily into the Argentine provinces of
Misiones and Corrientes. From there it is transported south by
trucks and cars along roads paralleling the Parana and Uruguay
rivers to Buenos Aires. Some is transported west through the cities
of Cordoba and Mendoza for local consumption, and a large portion is
smuggled across the border for the Chilean market. In CY-2004
57,785 kilograms were seized. Seizures for CY-2005 decreased
significantly, with approximately 36,482 kilograms seized, but
increased dramatically in CY 2006 to 93,544 kilograms.

Colombian-produced heroin represents the greatest threat to the
United States, transiting through Argentina directly to the U.S.
smuggled aboard commercial flights, or through Mexico and across the
Southwest border. CY-2003 was a record year for Argentina with over
175 kilograms seized. For FY-2004 the DEA supported the seizure of
61.4 kilograms of heroin. For FY-2005 the DEA assisted in the
seizure of 69.1 kilograms of heroin in Argentina. Seizure data from
UFIDRO and SEDRONAR show a total of 50.827 kilograms of heroin
seized in CY 2006. DEA assisted in the seizure 9.12 kilograms in
2006 along Argentina's northern border with Bolivia. A seizure of
heroin being smuggled overland was unusual and believed to be
representative of an overall increase in heroin smuggling activity
on the border with Bolivia. No seizures of heroin have been
recorded in the first six months of 2007.


After heroin, a secondary threat to the United States is the large
quantity of cocaine transiting from Argentina in containerized cargo
on the way to ports in Europe. Cocaine, in base and HCl form, from
Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru, can be found in Argentina. Proceeds
from drug smuggling ventures organized in Argentina are often
brought back to the country by couriers in bulk cash shipments, and
then wired to the United States for investments, although it appears
that they are also being smuggled directly into the United States in
the form of bulk cash for this purpose.

Colombian cocaine HCl entering Argentina is generally destined to
international cocaine markets in Europe and the U.S. Cocaine HCl
seizures have risen significantly over the past two years. SEDRONAR
reports the following seizures: CY-2001, 2,087 kgs; CY-2002, 1,562
kgs; CY-2003, 1,918 kgs; CY2004, 3,048 kgs; and CY-2005, 5,399 kgs.
In the first semester of 2007, federal and provincial law
enforcement agencies seized 5,373 kilograms of cocaine, compared to
a total of 8,079 kilograms for all of 2006. Federal and provincial
forces seized 35,205 kilograms of coca leaf in the first semester of
2007, compared to a total of 49,564 kilograms in all of 2006, and
52,928 kilograms in 2005.

Cocaine Base ("paco"): Media and official reports indicate that
cocaine base consumption in Argentina is on the increase. The
Argentine Federal Police indicated in 2002 that the smoking of
cocaine base (known as pasta base) referred to as paco in Argentina,
lata in Uruguay, and bazuco in neighboring Brazil, was on the
increase. Through consultations with a DEA Special Testing and
Research Laboratory Senior Chemist, the DEA Buenos Aires office has
determined that it is likely that what is reported locally as "pasta
base" or "paco" consumption is simply the smoking of a crude,
low-quality form of cocaine base. The favored means of smoking
cocaine base is "la lata," referring to the use of an empty soda can
into which the cocaine base is introduced and heated and the smoke
then inhaled. It is also smoked in small hand-made pipes. In
Argentina, one dose sells for a peso, or approximately 34 cents. In
Salta it is possible to buy cigarettes laced with cocaine in bundles
of three for $10 pesos (approx $3 U.S. dollars). In San Salvador de
Jujuy, cocaine is also sold mixed with tobacco and sells for 4 -5
pesos ($1.40-$1.70).

Hallucinogenic Drugs: The abuse of hallucinogenic drugs has been
reported among high school and university students, the most
prevalent being LSD. UFIDRO and SEDRONAR reported a total of 7,055
hits of LSD seized in the first semester of 2007, compared to 1,015
hits in CY-2006 and 1,537 in CY-2005.

Ecstasy and Club Drugs: Ecstasy continues to gain popularity among
Argentine young people in the middle and upper classes with a number
of ecstasy-related deaths attracting significant public attention.
The drug is primarily abused in urban population centers such as
Buenos Aires and in beach resort towns such as Mar del Plata.
Ecstasy is sold in these cities' nightclubs, where it is often
consumed together with alcohol, energizer drinks or both. It is
generally smuggled into Argentina from Western Europe, where the
drug is manufactured. In general, one tablet of ecstasy is sold for
$20-30 U.S. dollars. Ketamine use has also been reported.
Argentine security forces seized 23,244 units of amphetamines and
5,979 units of other psycho-pharmaceuticals in the first semester of
CY-2007. During CY 2006, security forces seized 23,228 units of
amphetamines. During CY-2005, only 5,074 units of amphetamines were
seized and 20,948 units of other psycho-pharmaceuticals.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction)

SEDRONAR coordinates the GOA's demand reduction efforts. Argentina
inaugurated its first National Drug Plan in 2005, and in 2006
initiated a number of demand reduction programs that continued in

"Quiero Ser" (I Want to Be) is a school-based program targeting
youth between the ages of 10-14 that incorporates teachers, parents,
federal and provincial officials.

The Drug Prevention Program in Sports provides drug prevention
training for soccer coaches to enlist them in increasing awareness
among youth of the dangers associated with drug usage and providing
youth with the tools/strategies for saying no to drugs.

The Community Prevention Program "Prevenimos" (We Prevent) targets
communities, helping them identify their needs and local resources
to undertake local prevention initiatives and create local networks
of public and private institutions and organizations.

The Youth Participation and Prevention Program is aimed at promoting
and strengthening national networks of young people aged 18-25
focused on building awareness and catalyzing existing resources.

The Prevention Program for Vulnerable Populations sensitizes and
trains federal penitentiary personnel in drug prevention theories
and practices. The aim is to reduce the vulnerability of the prison
population and raise awareness of the dangers associated with
illicit drug use (in particular the dangers of HIV/AIDs infection).

The Workplace Drug Prevention Program promotes awareness,
participation and commitment of employers and workers in workplace
drug prevention programs.

IV. U.S. Initiatives and Programs

The U.S. Mission in Argentina seeks to reduce Argentina's role as a
transit point for drug trafficking by disrupting and dismantling the
major drug trafficking organizations in the region; to promote
regional counter-drug cooperation by merging Argentina's
counter-drug mandate with that of other Southern Cone nations; to
maximize host nation drug enforcement capabilities; and to improve
cooperation with host country counterparts and U.S. Government

The Embassy, principally through the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's
(DEA) Country Office, works closely with Argentine federal and
provincial law enforcement agencies, with prosecutors and judges,
and with such federal entities as SEDRONAR and UFIDRO to improve
coordination and communication, cooperation, training and exchanges.
DEA and Mission's Legal Attache's office are particularly focused
on working with prosecutors and judges on improving and updating
investigation and prosecution techniques in narcotics trafficking
and other complex crimes. DEA and the State Department's
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau (INL) have
supported efforts of the Northern Border Task Force (NBTF), a joint
law enforcement group with federal and provincial elements operating
in Argentina's northwestern provinces of Jujuy and Salta to
interdict drug flow from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. In 2007, DEA's
Country Office worked with Argentine law enforcement agencies to
create a new Eastern Border Task Force (EBTF), modeled after the
NBTF and focused on the illicit drug smuggling activities in the
triborder area with Paraguay and Brazil. With DEA support,
Argentine law enforcement agencies continued to participate in Gran
Chaco and Operation Seis Fronteras with counterparts in Bolivia.

Embassy ICE Attache's office participated in "Operation Andes III,"
a joint program sponsored by INTERPOL and the World Customs
Organization (WCO) to coordinate the interdiction of precursor
chemicals in South America. Participants included national police
and customs agencies from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile,
Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and
Venezuela. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided
advisory support for precursor shipment identification and
investigative response.

Road Ahead

Mission agencies, led by DEA, will: work to establish and support a
new working group involving Aduanas (Customs) and Prefectura (Coast
Guard) associated with maritime security to facilitate greater
investigative coordination and cooperative efforts; continue
supporting the NBTF and EBTF; continue supporting Gran Chaco and
Operation Seis Fronteras operations; continue working with Argentine
authorities to strengthen Argentina's Money Laundering/Counter
Terrorism Finance Strategy and Regime, and Financial Intelligence
Units (FIUs); conduct training for members of the Gendarmeria
(Border Patrol) and Federal and Provincial Police involved in drug
interdiction activities; and, host U.S. interagency meetings to
foster the sharing of drug intelligence. Mission agencies will
focus greater attention on working with Argentine agencies, and in
the region. to encourage and support stronger precursor chemical

V. Statistical Tables (Majors Only)

VI. Chemical Control

Argentina has had legislation since 1996 for the control of chemical
substances. Law 23.737 (modified in 2005 by Law 26.052) established
the legal control regime over narcotic drugs. The modifications
introduced in 2005 made needed improvements in existing controls but
the new law still lacks implementing regulations that would impose
the needed penalties for violations in order to make the law
effective. Argentina has ratified the relevant international
conventions in combating drug trafficking including the 1961 Single
Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1971 Convention on Psychotropic
Substances, and the 1988 Convention Against the Illicit Traffic in
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

SEDRONAR is the primary government agencies responsible for the
control and monitoring of precursor chemicals. To date, the
National Registry of Precursor Chemicals has registered 6,658
companies. In May 2007, SEDRONAR and the National Institute of
Vitivinicultura (grape and wine producers) signed an agreement
registering another 3,278 companies in the National Precursor
Chemicals Registry. In the first seven months of 2007, the National
Precursor Chemical Registry registered 1,019 new companies,
reregistered 3,084, and issued 302 export authorizations and 1,349
import authorizations.

From January 2006 to September 2006, the DEA-funded Northern Border
Task Force (NBTF) seized approximately 684,220 kilograms of illicit
chemicals, a significant increase over the amount of illicit
chemicals seized during the same periods in 2005 and 2004.
Operation Seis Fronteras' chemical enforcement activities were
carried out in northern Argentina in coordination with the Bolivian
National Police Chemical Investigation Unit and the Brazilian
Federal Police.

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