Vladimir Krasavchikov, whom Russia has charged with large-scale cocaine trafficking, has been extradited from the Netherlands to Russia, the Russian Interior Ministry told Interfax on Saturday.
"Vladimir Krasavchikov, the organizer of an international criminal group that smuggled cocaine from the Republic of Ecuador for nearly ten years, has been extradited from the Netherlands to Russia under the escort of officers from the Interior Ministry's National Central Bureau of Interpol and the Federal Corrections Service on January 11," it said.
"Trans-Atlantic sea vessels regularly shipping commercial cargos, primarily bananas, from Ecuador to Russia were used to ship the drugs. While fruits were loaded at Ecuadorian ports, accomplices sneaked on board the vessel and, secretly from the crew, hid packets with cocaine in the ship's service or cargo compartments. Information on the shipment was passed to Russian partners. Then this cocaine was sold in the Russian Federation," it said.
The drug trafficking channel was blocked in an operation conducted jointly by the Russian Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB), and all key drug dealers involved in the ring were detained, it said.
Krasavchikov was declared internationally wanted under a Russian Prosecutor General's Office order in 2010. He was first hiding in Ecuador but, after an extradition request for him was issued, managed to leave this country.
He was detained in the Netherlands in early 2012, after which the Russian Prosecutor General's Office promptly forwarded all documents essential for his extradition to the Dutch law enforcement agencies.
Krasavchikov's interests in the Netherlands were represented by a large group of Dutch lawyers, who dragged out the extradition process as much as they could by filing numerous appeals against court rulings and executive bodies' decisions.
An Amsterdam court first ruled to turn Krasavchikov over on July 13, 2012. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld this ruling on November 20, 2012, after which the extradition procedure was started.
The Dutch security and justice minister's ruling on Krasavchikov's extradition took effect only at the end of 2013, after the Russian Prosecutor General's Office managed to prove the legitimacy of its extradition request in all Dutch instances.