Top Paraguay Police Officials Accused of Selling Seized Drugs, Guns

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Three high level police officials in Paraguay have been accused of selling seized cocaine and weapons, in the latest example of the endemic corruption that has facilitated the growth of the country’s drug trade.

The police chief in Alto Parana, the chief of investigations in the same region, and the director of the Fourth Police Zone are all under investigation after another official accused them of participating in the sale of 22 kilos of cocaine and three AK-47 rifles, reported Ultima Hora.

According to ABC Color, the weapons and drugs had originally been confiscated from two Brazilians, whose bodies were subsequently discovered in a lake in the city of Cruce Itakyry in Alto Parana.

The investigation began after a police official reported that he and his team arrested four police officers who were trying to sell the cocaine and weapons in Cruce Itakyry, reported ABC Color. That official claimed the three officials currently under investigation ordered the release of the four police, dismantled their unit, and then divvied up the proceeds from the sales.

The officials, along with six Itakyry police officers and four agents from the Alta Parana criminal investigation unit, have been removed from their posts and transferred to other departments, according to Ultima Hora.

InSight Crime Analysis

The current case underscores the corruption that is rampant in both Paraguay’s law enforcement agencies and judicial system, and comes on the heels of two other corruption cases involving high level officials.

Last week, a Paraguayan model accused a judge of sexual harassment after the official allegedly asked her for sexual favors in exchange for a favorable ruling in her child custody case. Then, on August 29, prosecutor Ruben Villalba was arrested after being caught red handed accepting a $10,000 bribe. Investigations have revealed that the prosecutor has a net worth of $3.2 million and owns luxury vehicles, even though his monthly salary — including benefits — amounts to around $3,500.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Paraguay

These are not isolated cases. Transparency International has ranked Paraguay as the second most corrupt country in mainland Latin America after Venezuela. In 2013 alone, the Judicial Superintendence received more than 4,600 complaints against judges, of which over 2,000 led to indictments. Recent InSight Crime field research in Paraguay has also confirmed the existence of systematic corruption, especially in the police force, which has little credibility even with other state agencies. 

Even Paraguay’s president has been implicated in illegal activity. The country’s major black market cigarette trade has been linked to President Horacio Cartes’ tobacco company Tabesa, and reports have indicated Cartes also has ties to money laundering and drug trafficking.

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