US denies smuggling spy equipment into Argentina [updated]



The United States has denied charges by Argentine officials that it tried to smuggle espionage equipment into the South American country under the pretext of transporting training supplies for Argentine Federal Police. The charges were leveled on Thursday, after Argentine customs officials conducted what the US Department of State called an “unusual and unannounced” inspection of a US Air Force C-17 cargo plane that landed in the country. According to the Argentine government, the inspection turned up communications interception equipment, “powerful GPS” hardware, as well as “technological elements containing codes labeled secret”, among other items. The material, which had apparently not been listed in the plane’s manifest, was confiscated, while the C-17, along with its American passengers, most of whom were members of the US Special Forces, flew back to the US. Authorities in Argentina are now accusing the US Pentagon and the Department of State of trying to smuggle in the equipment without declaring it to customs officials, as is prescribed under international air cargo transportation laws. Argentina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hector Timerman, said that the country’s laws “must be complied with by all without exception”, and told journalists that Buenos Aires would file an official complaint through its embassy in Washington, DC, in addition to requesting that the US cooperates with an investigation into the incident. But US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denied the confiscated equipment was espionage-related, and said the US government is “puzzled and disturbed by the actions of Argentine officials”. UPDATE: Minister Timerman has told Agence France Presse that Washington has refused to cooperate with an investigation into the incident.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to US denies smuggling spy equipment into Argentina [updated]

  1. ContractAgent says:

    Looking at the passengers, More then likely U.S. SF troops, the Equipment is obviously their communications gear. The crypto codes placed in those radios would obviously be considered, don’t know about labeled though, secret. Powerful GPS equipment, nothing new for the SF lot. Now, the interception equipment would be hard to identify, unless of course they had a specialist their that could specifically identify. Otherwise it just looks like antennas and other commo links. My assessment says the SF boys were there to do a training mission that not everyone in the government knew about. Otherwise they should have been detained and not allowed to return to the US. Not to mention this shows a shift on how a government usually gets “secret espionage related” equipment into a country, which for OPSEC reasons I won’t state here. But it’s a good way, almost fool proof, that rarely fails to get anything from small CIA documents to large interception antennas. This seems like it’s either the inspection boys didn’t get the memo about the SF mission, or someone was mad at someone in the political arena and had the plane boarded, searched and had the equipment seized. Either way neither govt will confirm or deny either story. But I’d rest assured it wasn’t spy equipment. It was special forces communication gear. Cheers
    TerrorTel at ME . Com

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