HomeNewsUS Announcement Against Corrupt Paraguay Official May Signal Shift
NEWS

US Announcement Against Corrupt Paraguay Official May Signal Shift

ELITES AND CRIME / 9 APR 2021 BY KATIE JONES EN

Recent judicial and diplomatic action taken by the United States against Paraguayan officials could mark a new, slightly more tense period in bilateral relations.

In early April, the US State Department announced that Paraguayan congressman Ulises Rolando Quintana Maldonado had been banned from entering the United States due to his involvement in “significant corruption.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that Quintana, as a legislator, had engaged in acts that “facilitated transnational organized crime, undermined the rule of law, and obstructed the public’s faith in Paraguay’s public processes.”

SEE ALSO: Drug Trafficking and Political Protection in Paraguay: The Case of ‘Cucho’ Cabaña

The announcement came just weeks after InSight Crime published an investigation that uncovered how the congressman had conspired with an alleged drug trafficker named Reynaldo “Cucho” Cabaña to protect cocaine shipments in exchange for illicit funds.

Other Paraguayan politicians have also run afoul of the US in recent months. In September, the US Justice Department announced that former Paraguay legislator Cynthia Elizabeth Tarragó Díaz had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Tarragó traveled to the United States on multiple occasions, where she accepted around $800,000 from purported drug traffickers before laundering funds through a network of accounts, according to the US Department of Justice news release.

InSight Crime Analysis

The United States government has for years been actively calling out corruption and organized crime in other parts of the region, most notably in Central America, but it has been noticeably coy as it relates to Paraguay.

That could be changing. Although it has no direct legal repercussions, the announcement to strip Quintana of his visa could be a sign that the US may take at least a more vocal role going forward.

Former US Ambassador to Guatemala Donald Planty told InSight Crime that the move shows the United States is prepared to take concrete steps to penalize official corruption on an individual basis. He said it also represents “a sharpening of US anti-corruption policies in Paraguay.”

SEE ALSO: Paraguay Grapples with Evolving Crime, Persistent Corruption

Paraguay is often overlooked but has become a major drug trafficking hub. The country produced an estimated 40,000 tons of cannabis in 2019. Criminal groups also move ever-larger amounts of cocaine and may now be branching into cocaine production.

Drug trafficking networks operating out of the nation rely on the support of corrupt officials, who help protect and even secure illicit loads.

Such was the case with Congressman Quintana. As a Paraguayan government investigation revealed, when the operative driving to pay Quintana for a 53-kilogram shipment of cocaine was stopped by police at a surprise checkpoint, the head of the trafficking ring, Cucho, called Quintana on the telephone. After paying a bribe, the driver was released.

Authorities believed the politician also ensured judicial protection for Cucho who, in return, allegedly helped finance his political campaign.

Corrupt officials like Quintana have largely remained in the shadows. And when caught out, they often evade facing justice, making recent actions taken by the United States all the more significant.

After spending time in Paraguay’s Viñas Cué military prison, Quintana was allowed to leave pretrial detention in October 2020 when the Court of Criminal Appeals suspended the ruling that was keeping him there.

The politician later announced his intention to run for mayor of Ciudad del Este, the same city from where the 53 kilograms of cocaine crossed the border into Brazil before Cucho himself was arrested, and Quintana went on the run.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 12 AUG 2014

A news report has shed light on how 1,449 grenades were stolen from a Guatemala military cache in 2013 and…

EL SALVADOR / 15 FEB 2021

Hopes are high in the Northern Triangle, that the arrival of Joseph Biden and his administration to the White House…

ELITES AND CRIME / 4 SEP 2015

Former President Otto Perez Molina's move from presidential palace to prison provides a true test for Guatemala's notoriously corrupt…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…