Jacob Ostreicher talks to the press in Bolivia

Two additional judicial officials have been accused of involvement in what looks like a wide-reaching network of corruption in Bolivia’s justice system, involving a plot to extort a US businessman.

A judge and a court official have been accused of participating in a scheme to extort Jacob Ostreicher, an entrepreneur from New York doing business in Boliviaas Bolivian newspaper La Razon reports. At least 12 officials linked to the case have been arrested so far, including prosecutors, judges, and an employee of the Interior Ministry, pointing to a high level of official corruption. 

Ostreicher was arrested and imprisoned in 2011 after his business was accused of purchasing land from a Brazilian drug dealer, although he was never formally charged with a crime. He has claimed that members of the prosecution attempted to extort money in exchange for his freedom, and that he was kept in prison so that they could continue extracting bribes from him. His case came to some attention in the international media after actor Sean Penn visited him in prison in October 2012. Shortly after the visit Ostreicher was freed and place under house arrest. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The case has shone a spotlight on institutionalized corruption within Bolivia’s judicial system. President Evo Morales' government has made several attempts to bring about badly needed reform, including one controversial measure that allowed the popular election of the Supreme Court judges in 2011. But the judiciary remains underfunded and inefficient. 

The fact that Ostreicher is a US citizen likely gave him some leverage in attracting attention to his case. But his experience is far from unusual: some two-thirds of Bolivia's prison population is still awaiting trial.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...