Crime DNA: the year Argentina became Sinaloa

The massacre that occurred in General Rodríguez revealed that Argentina was the world’s leading supplier of ephedrine to the Sinaloa cartel, that used that chemical precursor to make methamphetamine. Despite the fact that one of the victims was one of the main contributors to the Front for Victory campaign, there was never a special impulse to investigate who ordered the massacre that occurred in August 2008.

The murders of Sebastián Forza, Damián Ferrón and Leopoldo Bina They would not have materialized if the murderers did not have the collaboration of some members of the security forces, according to one of the judges when founding the sentence against the brothers Martín and Cristian Lanatta and Víctor and Marcelo Schillacci.

During the investigation of the triple crime, it was determined that, at that time, Argentina was the second world buyer of ephedrine. Between 1999 and 2010, 55,395 kilograms of ephedrine were imported, when the local pharmaceutical industry required 100 kilograms per year for the production of anti-flu and decongestants. Each tablet of these drugs carries a microdose of ephedrine, therefore, the amount required by the laboratories was much lower than that imported.

The Justice determined that of those 55,395 kilograms at least 40,000 kilograms of ephedrine They were referred to the Mexican drug cartels, mainly to the Sinaloa organization.

According to the witnesses who testified in the trial for the triple murder, Argentine traffickers bought a kilogram of ephedrine for $ 90 or $ 120 and sold it to Mexican drug traffickers for $ 10,000. This meant a movement of US $ 392,000,000 over eleven years for the sale of 40,000 kilograms of ephedrine to Mexican cartels. Three officials of the Kirchner government were prosecuted for trafficking in ephedrine, two of them with access to an office in the Casa Rosada. The FPV administration always detached itself from the accused.

Campaign checks

However, several documents they proved that Forza deposited four checks from his Seacamp drugstore, in the account of No. 5270993 of Banco Nación, owned by the Frente para la Victoria (FPV). Those four documents of $ 50,000 each were issued despite the fact that Forza was inhibited because it had widely exceeded the maximum allowed number of bounced checks, to carry out a commercial activity. No Central Bank official from that time could explain why Forza continued to issue checks. Interestingly, none of the four checks for $ 50,000 signed by Forza on October 29, 2007 were rejected and the money reached the coffers of the FPV campaign committee.

Those close to Forza indicated that the businessman, who for the amount deposited became one of the biggest funders of the party that led Cristina Kirchner to the presidency, made a similar contribution because he intended to collect the debt for medicines sold to the French Hospital and that it was included in bankruptcy. This hospital had been intervened by the Ministry of Health and an official appointed by the Executive Branch would decide who was paid. And Forza made the contribution to the FPV electoral campaign to collect the bills.

Sebastián Forza, Leopoldo Bina and Damían Ferrón, were found murdered in 2008Archive

“Between 2007 and 2008, acquiring a pharmacy or a drugstore allowed some opportunists a rapid ascent in the social ladder, so that owners of these businesses, their employees or people linked to this sector were dedicated to the sale of ephedrine, a substance vegetable derived from ephedra, imported in the so-called ‘cuñetes’ from India or China, since our country does not cultivate it, which was legally used to manufacture decongestants or bronchodilators and whose value in the local market ranged between the 90s and the 90s. 120 dollars. However, in the illegal market, where the main buyer was Mexico, this chemical precursor was used to manufacture designer or synthetic drugs, such as ecstasy; the Mexican cartels, already with the manufactured product, destined it essentially to the United States, paying up to US $ 10,000 per kilo, so it was an extraordinary business for their holders ”, described the judge of Mercedes, María Graciela Larroque, in the grounds for the sentence for the homicides of Forza, Ferrón and Bina.

Forza had been denounced by several laboratories for falsifying cancer drugs. Although he was never detained for the production of apocryphal remedies, Forza saw the opportunity that presented itself at that time with the purchase of drugstores that had the permission to import ephedrine. Cristian Heredia, Bina’s friend, provided the contacts to collect the chemical precursor.

A cold trap

On August 7, 2008 when Forza, Ferrón and Bina were kidnapped, Heredia had to attend a meeting with them at the bar of the service station located in Sarandí, within the premises of a shopping mall. Said meeting would serve to seal an agreement between Forza, Ferrón and Bina with a Mexican buyer.

The victims did not know it but they were heading for a trap designed by the main supplier of the delegate of the Sinaloa cartel in Argentina, which did not accept competitors. Heredia did not attend the meeting and saved his life, miraculously.

After six days of searching, the three bodies were found in a ditch in General Rodríguez. Faced with the public shock caused by the triple homicide, the general commissioner who commanded the Buenos Aires police went to the scene and, before the journalists who were behind the perimeter set by the experts of the scientific police, affirmed that Forza, Ferrón and Bina were murdered in that place and that they were before the primary scene of the massacre.

A shipment of ephedrine found in Ezeiza
A shipment of ephedrine found in EzeizaMetropolitan Police – DyN

Juan Ignacio Bidone, the Mercedes Complex Investigations prosecutor, took charge of the investigation and, after analyzing the results of the histopathological studies and the conclusions of the autopsies, warned that the victims’ bodies were exposed to cold, which delayed the cadaverization process. Based on this scientific data, the representative of the Public Ministry began to reconstruct the route of the victims’ cell phones and determined that they were at the Lanatta house, in Quilmes, near the place where the victims were seen alive for the last time .

The real motive for the multiple homicide was ephedrine. Our territory was fertile ground for colonization by the Mexican cartels, who sent their ‘viceroys’, among them, Jesús Martínez Espinosa, who had a close relationship with Marcelo Tarzia, in charge of his business in Argentina, and Ibar Pérez Corradi ”, said one of the magistrates in the verdict against the brothers Lanatta and Schillaci.

Pérez Corradi was a fugitive for six years. He was arrested in June 2016 in Foz de Iguazú. Despite the fact that the former SIDE knew that Pérez Corradi had taken refuge in the Triple Frontier area, nothing was done to arrest him.

While Martínez Espinosa, who installed the methamphetamine laboratory that exploded in Ingeniero Maschwitz, was never convicted of the triple homicide. For the Justice, he was responsible for the ephedrine trafficking and sentenced him to 14 years in prison.

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