US to seek extradition of ex-Guatemalan vice president on drug trafficking charges

Vice-President Roxana Baldetti and ex-Interior Minister Hector Mauricio Lopez Bonilla faces a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and knowing that it would be imported to the United States.

By: AP | Guatemala City | Published:February 25, 2017 10:13 am
US extradition of ex-Guatemalan vice president, US news, Latest news, Extradition of ex-Guatemalan vice president, US and Guatemala realtions, latest news, International news, World news Guatemala’s former Vice President Roxana Baldetti arrives to a hearing on new charges for illicit campaign finance, illegal association, passive bribery and money laundering, at the Supreme Court in Guatemala City. (Source: Retures)

The US government will seek the extradition of former Guatemalan Vice-President Roxana Baldetti and ex-Interior Minister Hector Mauricio Lopez Bonilla on drug trafficking charges, the embassy said in a statement. Baldetti and Lopez Bonilla were indicted in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday, according to the statement. Each faces a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and knowing that it would be imported to the United States.

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Baldetti’s attorney, Gustavo Juarez, said they had not been notified of the US allegations. Juarez read a statement from Baldetti, in which she dismissed the charges as “one more of the lies in the persecution I have suffered since 2015.”

She wrote “I have never participated in this type of activity, neither before I was vice president nor after.”

According to the indictment, Baldetti and others conspired between 2010 and 2015 to import cocaine to the US.

The embassy was awaiting the formal extradition request from the US Justice Department.

Baldetti resigned in 2015 and was formally charged for corruption last year. She has been in custody on charges of allowing and benefiting from an alleged customs graft scheme that defrauded the country of millions of dollars.

Then-President Otto Perez Molina also resigned and has been in custody. In that scheme, companies paid bribes to avoid customs duties.

Another corruption scheme ensnared dozens of people with prosecutors alleging that kickbacks from government contracts were used to buy goods and services for Baldetti, including real estate and luxury vehicles, as well as USD 4.3 million in gifts.

Baldetti was accused of receiving USD 38 million in kickbacks between 2009 and 2015 for at least 70 public works projects. On one trip to Miami, she allegedly spent USD 27,000 on designer shoes and clothing.

The former vice president had denied all of those accusations. She had not faced drug charges in Guatemala.

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