If your cell phone or tablet is malfunctioning after getting wet, the common cure is to submerge it in some rice. Apparently, Argentine and Colombian cocaine smugglers were experiencing troubles with the methods they were using. They used the same cure to try to get their shipments past law enforcement. Customs agents in Argentina were astounded when they found 30 kilos of coke soaked into grains of rice on its way to Europe from Africa.
Argentina is the jump-off point of much of the cocaine produced in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. The blow goes from there to Africa, where it is sent north to the “lucrative markets of Europe.” Always looking for creative ways to beat the feds, the drug runners involved with this shipment imaginatively soaked grains of rice in water mixed with cocaine. When all of the water had evaporated, the rice had completely absorbed the cocaine invisibly. Instead of extracting the cocaine from the rice (which seems like it would be a tedious task), it is expected that the dealers would simply grind the rice into fine powder and sell it as cocaine.
The Guardian reports:
The scheme was discovered on 17 September when drug-sniffing dogs detected cocaine in a cargo of 50kg rice sacks at a warehouse in the port city of Rosario. It was kept secret for a week while security agents hunted for more suspects…
The plan was to ship the cargo to Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony called by crime experts as Africa’s first “narco-state”. Each of the white sacks was stamped “country of origin: Argentina”.
Aside from cocaine, South America is a big time food provider for the world, shipping out tons of soy, wheat and corn. Rosario is the shipping point for a lot of these products. The Guardian explains the state of Rosario:
But international drug enforcement officials have taken to calling Rosario “the Tijuana of Argentina” for what it has in common with the Mexican border city used to move cocaine into the US.
Experts say the drug enters Argentina by truck or plane from Andean cocaine-producing countries to the north. The smuggling routes narrow the closer shipments get to Rosario, increasing violent competition among gangs to control the final steps toward the Paraná river, leading south to Buenos Aires and shipping lanes of the Atlantic Ocean.
Drug-related killings spiked so high in Rosario last year that federal forces were called in to provide security.
Twelve Argentine and Colombian drug runners were arrested in connection with this seizure.