400 kilograms of cocaine found in Russian embassy in Argentina

A view of the Russian Embassy annex building where around 400 kilos of cocaine has been found, in Buenos Aires, Argentina Feb. 22, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2018
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400 kilograms of cocaine found in Russian embassy in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES: Police have seized nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine from the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires and arrested several members of a drug trafficking gang, Argentina's security minister announced Thursday.
Patricia Bullrich told a press conference that the drugs discovered in an annex of the embassy had a street value of around $50 million.
"A gang of narco-criminals was trying to use the diplomatic courier service of the Russian embassy" to ship the drugs to Europe, she said.
She told reporters that Russian and Argentine police had decided to mount a sting operation after the Russian ambassador informed them of the drugs find in Dec. 2016.
"The cocaine was replace by flour and monitoring devices were placed to monitor delivery" of the 16 bags of the drug, Bullrich said. She said the sting had resulted in the arrest of five suspects — two in Argentina and three in Russia.
The drug, of "very high purity," was destined for Russia and probably also Germany, where the suspected mastermind lives. "We believe the German police will arrest this fugitive," Bullrich said.
The minister said Russian security service agents "came to Argentina on three occasions to assist in the investigation" that took more than a year.
One of the two people arrested in Argentina is a naturalized Russian who was a member of the police force in Buenos Aires, said Bullrich.
Investigators believe the cocaine likely originated in Colombia or Peru.


New Quebec law stresses migrants’ skills, thousands must reapply

Updated 37 min 20 sec ago
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New Quebec law stresses migrants’ skills, thousands must reapply

  • The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift his country’s visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers
  • The law will attempt to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec

MONTREAL: The Quebec provincial legislature on Sunday approved a controversial immigration bill that will replace a first-come, first-served standard for accepting migrants with one tied to an applicants’ skills.
The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift his country’s visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers.
The law will attempt to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec, Canada’s second most-populous province.
Under the new law, some 18,000 applications now on file will be shredded, affecting as many as 50,000 people, many of whom already live in the province.
The 18,000 existing applicants will have to restart the immigration process.
The provincial government promised to expedite processing of their new applications, saying qualified workers would have answers within six months rather than the current 36 months.
The 62-to-42 vote on the bill took place around 4 am (0800 GMT) at the end of a marathon session convened by the governing center-right Coalition Avenir Quebec, immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced on Twitter.
“We are modifying the immigration system in the public interest because we have to ensure we have a system which meets the needs of the labor market,” Jolin-Barrette told the National Assembly.
All three opposition parties opposed the measure, calling it “inhuman” and saying the government did not justify dropping the 18,000 pending applications.
“Honestly, I don’t think this bill will be seen positively in history,” Liberal Party MP Dominique Anglade said, according to the Montreal Gazette. “It’s the image of Quebec which gets tarnished.”
Premier Francois Legault’s government resorted to a special parliamentary procedure to limit debate over the proposal.
His party won power in October with a promise to slash by more than 20 percent the number of immigrants and refugees arriving each year in Quebec.
The assembly reconvened on Sunday and after sometimes-acrimonious debate passed a bill banning the wearing of religious symbols by public servants including police officers, judges, lawyers, prison guards and teachers.
However the new law will only apply to new recruits, with existing employees unaffected.
The proposal, also backed by Legault, puts the premier at odds with the multiculturalism advocated by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.