HomeNewsBriefJailed Ex-Drug Czar Accuses Bolivia of Shielding Corrupt Officials
BRIEF

Jailed Ex-Drug Czar Accuses Bolivia of Shielding Corrupt Officials

BOLIVIA / 24 MAY 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

A former Bolivian drug czar currently held in the United States on drug trafficking charges has accused the Morales government of protecting other high-ranking officials with ties to the illegal drug trade.

On May 21, Univision reported that former Bolivian drug official Rene Sanabria, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a US federal judge for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into Miami via a Chilean port, had sent them a letter detailing the alleged cover-up.

In the letter, the ex-official reportedly maintains that “the government is thwarting a comprehensive investigation into public officials involved in drug trafficking.”

The contents of the letter were not released to the public, but the news network reported that Sanabria provided specific evidence for his claims, including “the identification of public officials involved in crimes and drug-related corruption.” He also said that an official investigation into these charges was terminated by ex-Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti and Deputy Interior Minister Marcos Farfan.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the government of President Evo Morales has questioned the authenticity of the letter, current Interior Minister Carlos Romero called upon the imprisoned police official to turn over a list of authorities along with his specific accusations against them. "If the retired general Rene Sanabria knows of some people involved in these drug issues he should provide their names, and must indicate the evidence or signs that point to the involvement of those people.”

Meanwhile, Morales’ political enemies are seizing on the allegations. Opposition Senator Roger Pinto has called for the formation of a congressional commission, which would be tasked with traveling to the US and interviewing Sanabria in person.

The hotly politicized nature of the allegations mirrors a similar situation in Venezuela. There too, former officials accused of drug ties have alleged widespread government involvement in drug trafficking and organized crime, while the government has dismissed this as an unwarranted political attack.

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