Two Argentines arrested in Russian embassy cocaine probe

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Six suspected drug traffickers were arrested after 858 pounds of cocaine were found in the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires, a discovery that triggered a joint police operation lasting more than a year, Argentina's government said on Thursday.

The investigation started in 2016, when the Russian ambassador to Argentina called local authorities to report that traffickers were trying to move 16 bags of cocaine from the Buenos Aires embassy by way of a diplomatic flight.

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Two Argentines arrested in Russian embassy cocaine probe
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Two Argentines arrested in Russian embassy cocaine probe
The cocaine that has been found in the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, appears in this undated handout photo provided on February 22, 2018. Argentine Ministry of Security/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. PARTS OF THE IMAGE WERE BLURRED AT SOURCE.
Argentina's Security Minister Patricia Bullrich announces during a news conference that around 400 kilos of cocaine have been found at the Russian embassy annex building in Buenos Aires, Argentina February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta
The cocaine that has been found in the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, appears in this undated handout photo provided on February 22, 2018. Argentine Ministry of Security/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
A view of the Russian Embassy annex building where around 400 kilos of cocaine has been found, in Buenos Aires, Argentina February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta
The cocaine that has been found in the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, appears in this undated handout photo provided on February 22, 2018. Argentine Ministry of Security/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. PARTS OF THE IMAGE WERE BLURRED AT SOURCE.
Argentina's Security Minister Patricia Bullrich announces during a news conference that around 400 kilos of cocaine have been found at the Russian embassy annex building in Buenos Aires, Argentina February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta
A view of the Russian Embassy annex building where around 400 kilos of cocaine have been found, in Buenos Aires, Argentina February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta
Argentina's Security Minister Patricia Bullrich announces during a news conference that around 400 kilos of cocaine have been found at the Russian embassy annex building in Buenos Aires, Argentina February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta
Argentina's Security Minister Patricia Bullrich announces during a news conference that around 400 kilos of cocaine have been found at the Russian embassy annex building in Buenos Aires, Argentina February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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As part of the unprecedented joint Argentine-Russian police operation, authorities replaced the cocaine with flour while it was still at the embassy.

"A tracking device was placed in the suitcase that was to be used to make the shipment to Russia, which was its destination," Argentina's Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told reporters.

The investigation led to the arrest on Wednesday of an Argentine policeman and another citizen of the South American country. Other involved in the scheme had been arrested in Russia, while one of the leaders of the plot was still on the run, Bullrich said.

(Reporting by Julian Castilla; writing by Hugh Bronstein; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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