Paraguay Presidential Candidate Accused of Ties to Drug Trafficking

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A Paraguayan human rights group has demanded prosecutors investigate the links between drug traffickers and Horacio Cartes, a man with a long history of murky ties to organized crime, who may well become the next president of Paraguay.

The Paraguayan Permanent Assembly of Human Rights filed a complaint with the country’s Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, calling for it to open an official investigation into a string of allegations against Cartes, including the claim that his property was used to move drug shipments and that he maintains economic ties with drug traffickers.

The president of the assembly, Nils Candia, said that despite filing the complaint, he did not expect to see Cartes face prosecution because “the judiciary, in its criminal aspect, is totally subordinate to money and the de facto powers that make impunity possible,” reported EFE.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is far from the first time suspicions have been raised about the illicit business interests of Cartes, who is also believed to have played a key role in the ousting of President Fernando Lugo in 2012.

According to a 2010 diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Cartes was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), who believed he headed an organization that laundered large quantities of US dollars — proceeds from drug trafficking and other illegal activities.

Cartes has also faced persistent allegations over his role in contraband tobacco smuggling and his connections to criminal groups in the Brazil border region.

According to the latest polls, Cartes remains the favorite to win the April 13 elections.

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