Arrest of Argentina’s ‘Most Wanted’ May Uncover Drug Corruption

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The recent arrest of a man local media are calling Argentina’s most wanted fugitive could play a major role in determining just how high up drug trafficking-related corruption reached during the administration of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Authorities from Brazil and Paraguay arrested Ibar Esteban Pérez Corradi on June 19, in a joint operation in Foz de Iguaçu, a city on the Brazilian side of the “Triple Frontier” region, where the borders of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet, reported Clarín

Pérez Corradi stands accused of being the intellectual author of Argentina’s high-profile “triple murder” case, which refers to the 2008 killing of three pharmaceutical businessmen who were allegedly linked to traffickers of ephedrine, a precursor chemical used to make methamphetamine.

Pérez Corradi is believed to have spent several years as a fugitive in Paraguay. After being detained once by Interpol agents, he allegedly bribed them with $200,000 in exchange for his freedom and a Paraguayan identification document, reported ABC Color

Following his arrest, Pérez Corradi was handed over to Paraguayan officials. Since then, a federal judge in Argentina has filed an extradition request for him on charges related to the triple murder and ephedrine trafficking, Clarín reported. On June 20, Pérez Corradi denied that he was the intellectual author of the murders, and said that he feared for his and his family’s safety, reported La Nacion

InSight Crime Analysis

Argentina’s triple murder case carries strong political overtones. In August 2015, a man sentenced to life in prison for his participation in the scheme told local media that Aníbal Fernández, the cabinet chief for former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, maintained ties to the ephedrine trade and had ordered the murders. Fernández vigorously denied the accusations, but Pérez Corradi’s arrest has once again put him — and the Kirchner administration’s possible links to ephedrine trafficking rings — under the microscope.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Argentina

Shortly after the arrest, Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said she was hoping for a quick extradition in order to determine if Pérez Corradi will confess to having ordered the murders or if he contends that the chain of command “goes higher up.”

She added that if she were Fernández, “I would be worried” about Pérez Corradi’s capture. Fernández responded by saying that he doesn’t know Pérez Corradi, and that his arrest “doesn’t worry me at all.”

The arrest could put other high-level Kirchner officials implicated in ephedrine trafficking in the spotlight as well. A former director of Argentina’s anti-drug agency was accused in July 2014, of facilitating ephedrine trafficking, while officials in the president’s office were also accused of links to trafficking of the precursor chemical during Fernández’s term (2007-2015).

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