Investigators from both Colombia and the United States have implicated at least 50 officials from Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office in cases of corruption, including the top anti-corruption prosecutor, in an embarrassing discovery that could impact bilateral relations.
Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía General de la Nación – FGN) announced on June 27 that Luis Gustavo Moreno, then the director of its anti-corruption unit, had been arrested in Bogotá, along with his lawyer Leonardo Luis Pinilla. His capture was carried out by the attorney general’s technical investigation team (Cuerpo Tecnico de Investigacion – CTI) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Moreno and Pinilla are wanted by the Southern District Court of Florida for “conspiracy to launder money with the intent to promote bribery and corruption in Colombia,” and according to the Attorney General’s Office, both will be extradited to the United States to face the charges.
Both officials met multiple times in Miami with the ex-governor of the Colombian department of Córdoba, Alejandro Llyons Muskus, to “demand money” in exchange for diverting ongoing corruption investigations being conducted against him in Colombia, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Lyons, working as a “cooperating source of information” with US authorities, met with the former prosecutor and offered him $10,000 in bribes, under the direction of the DEA. Moreno and Pinilla demanded an additional $161,000 to maneuver the corruption case in favor of the former governor, according to a statement by the US Department of Justice.
Corruption investigations into the Attorney General’s Office in Colombia have already led to the capture of at least 50 officials in various departments throughout the country. Several of those arrested could be extradited, according to Caracol Radio.
InSight Crime Analysis
The capture and possible extradition of Colombia’s former anti-corruption prosecutor has generated much attention and could have bigger, long-lasting consequences.
The case comes at an inopportune moment in bilateral relations between the United States and Colombia. Under the Trump administration, the United States is looking to advance its interests in Colombia, such as the reinstatement of old anti-drug policies (although messages have been mixed on exactly how).
That there are some 50 officials implicated shows that Colombia is cooperating with the United States in the investigation, which has cast its net wide. But the purge also shows that corruption cases are recurrent and benefit not only elites, but also organized crime groups.
For example, a network of more than 40 officials that fixed cases for members of criminal groups, sold them confidential information, and resold decommissioned drugs was discovered earlier this year in the Attorney General’s Office in the department of Nariño — one of the areas most affected by drug trafficking. Another recent case was that of Hilda Niño, a high-level official who received bribes from paramilitary groups to maneuver investigations against them in their favor.