A Russian citizen has been arrested in Germany in connection with a massive cocaine smuggling ring that has drawn headlines in Russia and around the world, according to German investigators.
In a statement on Twitter, the State Prosecutor for Berlin said investigators on Thursday “arrested a 49-year-old Russian citizen in the Scharmuetzelsee area because of an international Russian arrest request. Accusation: Founding of a criminal enterprise with the aim of smuggling cocaine from Argentina to Russia.”
Russian news media identified the man as Andrei Kovalchuk. Vladimir Zherebenkov, a lawyer for Kovalchuk, told the Russian state news agency TASS that his client had been arrested at his home in a Berlin suburb, and that the German government was weighing an extradition request.
Zherebenkov said his client denied any guilt in the matter, TASS reported.
Last week, Argentine police announced the seizure of 389 kilograms of cocaine that had been discovered on the grounds of the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires in December 2016. The case prompted a media firestorm in Russia, with journalists raising questions about how diplomatic facilities had become involved in an apparent narcotics trafficking ring.
The Russian government says it alerted Argentine authorities to the alleged criminal activity and jointly carried out an international investigation that led to several arrests.
Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told CNN that one individual allegedly connected to the ring had originally had remained at large. She referred to him as “the famous Mr. K.”
Bullrich said the individual was a “Russian, a business man who had a lot of connections and evidently a big business man that didn’t earn his money working.”
Jonatan Viale of CNNE contributed to this report