By Dialogo June 22, 2010 Latin American drug traffickers are seeking new territory for their activities and studying the possibilities offered by Argentina, where extradition proceedings began Friday for an alleged Colombian drug trafficker wanted by the United States, the same day that a model was charged with the same crime. “There’s an advance by the drug cartels. It’s not a project to establish themselves definitively. They’re looking around, getting a view of the terrain from within a global framework,” Carlos Alberto Pereyra Mele, an analyst with the Center for South American Strategic Studies, told AFP. Argentina is an export location for drugs headed for European markets, while Mexico is the place of transit for the United States, the analyst indicated, something which explains several recent cases that have garnered a great deal of attention. In this context, alleged Colombian drug trafficker Luis Caicedo Velandia was detained in Buenos Aires in April, and proceedings began Friday to extradite him to the United States, where he is accused of narcotics trafficking and money laundering, the Judicial Information Center announced. Colombian model Angie Sanclemente Valencia, a thirty-year-old former Coffee Queen, was ordered held without bail on charges of organizing a criminal group that tried to traffic cocaine from Mexico to Europe by way of Argentina in December. Mónica Cuñarro, the coordinator of the Scientific Advisory Committee on the Control of Illicit Narcotics Trafficking, indicated that “it is true that trafficking has increased” in the South American country. “Trafficking always has extraterritorial links: a measure taken in Paraguay or in Brazil causes the traffickers to change routes and can affect transit through Argentina. It happened with ephedrine: its import into Mexico was prohibited, and it shifted to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile,” she explained. According to Pereyra Mele, a specialist in South American geopolitics, the highly developed infrastructure of Argentina’s chemical industry and its qualified technical personnel are other attractions for the cartels. Argentina is Latin America’s leading producer of chemical precursors, AFP was told by Claudio Izaguirre, head of the Argentine Anti-Drug Association, who blamed the Cabinet chief, Aníbal Fernández, for what he considered “permissive policy action” with regard to drug trafficking. According to the expert, Colombian drug traffickers have established themselves in the city of Rosario (300 km north of the capital), and Mexicans in Zárate-Campana (80 km north), both port districts, while other, smaller-scale traffickers – of Bolivian, Paraguayan, Dominican, and Peruvian origin – are setting up shop in various underprivileged neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, grouped by nationality. Meanwhile, Mexican Mario Roberto Segovia, known as the “ephedrine king,” is awaiting trial in Argentina on charges of smuggling around six hundred kilograms of the substance to Mexico in 2007. In 2008, the killing of three young Argentine entrepreneurs led to the discovery of the alleged traffic in ephedrine, a chemical precursor used to manufacture synthetic drugs and the commercialization of which had to be restricted. Around the same time, two Colombians with links to drug trafficking were also murdered in a shopping center on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. During the last decade, the wife and two children of murdered Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar settled in Buenos Aires.