Bloody incidents in prisons, summary executions, hired killers and the activities of Brazilian criminal organisations are evidence of an underworld of organised crime operating in this country.
The arrest of nine Paraguayan police officers with long-standing relationships with drug trafficking and organised crime revealed a part of the huge framework of corruption that is undermining the authority of Paraguay’s government and endangering the peace of the public at large.
The drug enforcement officers were arrested on September 24 during Operation Dignity which is composed of combined units drawn from the National Anti-Drug Secretariat (Senad), the Ministry of the Interior and the Prosecutor’s Office of the departments of Concepción, Amambay and Asunción.
The arrested officers are the chief commissioner Edelio Loreiro, deputy commissioners Pedro Molinas and Rubén Darío Duarte and agents Venancio Bolaños, Mario Figueroa, Carlos Ever Navarro and Pablo César Morales. In addition, Luis C. Gómez and Sebastián Ramón Silva are among the arrested all of whom are accused of providing logistical support to the drug lords.
Navarro, Morales and Silva received monthly payments of between 162 and 313 dollars. “’They took this money in exchange for providing classified information to criminals,” said Operation Dignity prosecutor, Hugo Volpe.
Recordings of conversations between the police officers and drug traffickers – which are demonstrative of this corrupt web* present at every level in Paraguayan society including senators, MPs and men holding high political positions in the country – were made public as a result of the investigations.
On September 11, heavily armed men attacked a police escort transporting inmates to the Emboscada prison after a court hearing in Asunción and rescued drug lord Jorge Teófilo Samudio González, aka ‘Samura’.
During the assault, Commissioner Felix Ferrari, deputy chief of the First Asunción Police Station, was killed and non-commissioned officer Carlos Araújo was injured.
Experts felt that this fact, together with other bloody incidents in prisons, summary executions of hitmen and operations carried out by the Brazilian criminal organisations First Capital Command and Vermelho (‘Red’) Command, among other related activities, are evidence of an underworld of organised crime operating in Paraguay. The rescue of Samudio precipitated the resignation of the minister of justice, Julio Javier Ríos and the replacement, by order of President Mario Abdo Benítez, of the chief of the National Police, Walter Vásquez.
In response to the existing situation, the president gave the green light to the prison emergency act. The new set of regulations – number 6365 – was implemented in all prisons across the country and will be in force for one year.
In addition, the vice president of Paraguay, Hugo Velázquez, announced that the deployment of the armed forces in prisons will be strengthened after riots in the Concepción, Colonel Oviedo and Pedro Juan Caballero prisons initiated by inmate members of First Capital Command, a Brazilian criminal group. (PL)
(Translated by Nigel Conibear MCIL) – Photos: Pixabay