A former police colonel and hero of Peru's internal conflict has been arrested for his alleged connections to the "Pablo Escobar of Peru," making him the latest official to fall from grace thanks to organized crime charges.
On October 25, former police Colonel Benedicto Jimenez was captured by a police task force in the southern city of Arequipa, following a months-long search, reported El Comercio. He is accused of taking part in a money laundering network run by suspected kingpin Rodolfo Orellana.
Jimenez was initially arrested on July 1 on charges of money laundering and illicit association, but was freed and has been on the run from authorities since a judge ordered his preventive detention later that month.
According to government documents accessed by El Comercio, Jimenez was in charge of the NGO United Against Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering (UCONA) as well as the magazine "Just Judge" (Juez Justo), which was used to discredit those who accused the group of criminal activity.
Orellana's organization amassed a fortune of over $100 million through a number of illicit businesses, run with the help of corrupt officials, according to the Attorney General's Office, reported El Comercio.
InSight Crime Analysis
The capture of Jimenez is a significant step forward in the case against Orellana's network. Orellana has been called the “Pablo Escobar of Peru" due to his alleged vast criminal empire and political connections, and authorities will undoubtedly try to use Jimenez's capture to gather information to help locate the man who has become one of the country's most wanted criminals.
Jimenez was once considered a national hero for his leading role in the 1992 capture of Abimael Guzman, the leader of Maoist guerrilla group the Shining Path. This status would have helped him build his alleged criminal network, which is suspected to have stolen large sums of money from the government, and involved some 200 corrupt police officers.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime
Abuse of power for personal enrichment is a familiar narrative in Peru. Officials at all levels of government have been investigated for corruption, including three recent presidents. Corrupt officials are believed to be important facilitators of the country's drug trade. One recent case involved a congressman who was accused of ties to a Mexican trafficker responsible for a 7.5 ton cocaine shipment seized on the Peruvian coast.