Former Paraguay Police Chief Arrested for Drug Smuggling

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A former police chief in Paraguay is accused of trafficking after being captured moving cocaine, an arrest which highlights the vulnerability to corruption among security forces and the country’s growing role in regional organized crime.

As Digital ABC reported, Commissioner Hermes Enrique Argaña, ex-Chief of Investigation for Ciudad del Este, is accused of possession of drugs, working with two men, allegedly drug traffickers with links to a kidnapping ring, who accompanied him at the time of the arrest. Argaña’s apparent role was to use his status to provide cover to the men transporting the drugs. However Argaña said he knew nothing of the cocaine in the vehicle.

The former police chief was arrested in Ciudad de Este, long known as a smuggling center thanks to its presence along the borders with both Brazil and Argentina. He had also been convicted in 1990 of murder, but somehow managed to secure his freedom and reincorporation into the police force, again suggesting some shady dealings within the Paraguay police.

InSight Crime Analysis

Argaña’s arrest suggests that senior officials, active and retired, are not immune to corruption, and provides further evidence that security in the country is vulnerable. As InSight reported last year, Paraguay’s inability to make headway against the rebels of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) has embarrassed authorities, and Paraguayan marines have fired at Brazilian police allegedly to help smugglers. Argaña’s attempt to bribe the arresting agents also suggests past success in similar operations.

Paraguay’s involvement in drug trafficking has increased significantly in the last year. The country is a huge supplier of marijuana and often provides a transport route for cocaine going from Bolivia into Brazil and Argentina. The trend has caused Brazil to militarize its border with Paraguay, disrupting legitimate trade and causing conflicts between Paraguayan and Brazilian security forces.

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