Russian curler implicated in cocaine trafficking plot – RT investigation
The investigation files claim that two citizens of Latvia were also mixed up in the alleged smuggling, suggesting the suitcases were heading to Europe through Russia.
Vladimir Kalmykov and Ishtimir Khudzamov, who allegedly supervised the transportation of the drugs, including air freight, had hired Kilba as a driver, as they needed a third car to take all of the suitcases from a Moscow airport.
In December, Kalmykov and Khudzamov, were arrested in Russia when they attempted to retrieve the suitcases. It remains unknown whether the curler knew that cocaine had been stuffed into the suitcases he was ordered to pick up, but – according to the case files – Kilba was questioned as a witness and later released by special services.
Kilba participated in the Russian curling championships before retiring from the sport. Now he organizes various curling tournaments and teaches children how to play the winter sport.
He is also acquainted with another Russian athlete, Alexander Krushelnitsky, who was embroiled in doping scandal at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Krushelnitsky and his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova earned bronze in curling mixed doubles but were later stripped of their medal after meldonium was detected in Krushelnitsky’s doping probe.
The unprecedented cocaine scandal came to light in February this year, when Argentinian police announced that they had seized nearly 400kg of the drug, packed into suitcases in the Russian embassy school in Buenos Aires.
The investigation began in December 2016, when Russian Ambassador to Argentina Victor Koronelli found 16 suitcases packed with cocaine. He personally alerted the Argentinian Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich about the suspicious packages.
The discovery of the drugs was kept secret while Russian and Argentine security services collaborated on a year-long sting. Argentinian special services replaced the cocaine with flour and implanted tracking devices in the cases, before embarking on a lengthy monitoring operation and investigation in conjunction with Russian authorities.
As a result of the investigation, three suspects were detained in Russia and two in Argentina, including a former Russian diplomatic official and an Argentinian police officer. Russian businessman, Andrei Kovalchuk, who allegedly masterminded the drug-smuggling plot was arrested in Germany earlier this month.