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Bolivian prosecutor’s office raids properties of former minister detained in the U.S.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Bolivian prosecutor’s office raided this Friday, May 28, properties of the former Minister of Government Arturo Murillo, arrested in the United States accused of money laundering, in which documentation was found for the case alleging the overpriced purchase of riot equipment.

The Minister of the Interior, Eduardo del Castillo, informed the media that nine properties linked to the former minister of the transitional government of Jeanine Áñez were raided between Thursday and Friday.

 Bolivian Prosecutor's Office raids properties of former minister detained in the U.S.
Bolivian Prosecutor’s Office raids properties of former minister detained in the U.S. (Photo internet reproduction)

The Public Prosecutor’s Office carried out six raids on Thursday, and this Friday they proceeded to three properties located in Cochabamba, Del Castillo continued.

“We have found documentation not only linked to the tear gas case, but there are also a series of other processes that could be found in these homes,” the minister explained to the media.

The U.S. Department of Justice reported this week the arrest of two Bolivian citizens and three other U.S. citizens on criminal charges related to bribery and money laundering, including former minister Murillo and his chief of staff, Sergio Méndez, and owners of the intermediary company.

According to the published document, these five people are accused of “conspiracy to commit money laundering” and, if convicted, would face a 20-year prison sentence.

This alleged bribery occurs in the context of the purchase of anti-riot material such as tear gas in the transitional government of Áñez, for which there is an arrest warrant in Bolivia against Murillo for alleged overpricing in the acquisition.

Del Castillo explained that the government of Áñez spent US$5.6 million for the purchase of tear gas, but that the Brazilian company Condor was paid only US$3.3 million for this acquisition. Hence, there is an overpricing of US$2.3 million.

The minister also indicated that two regular channels are already being followed to request the extradition of the former minister, the first through the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the second through the “State cooperation channel”.

They are also analyzing the possibility of a commission going to the United States “if necessary”, but they do not want to “hinder this investigation”.

The Attorney General’s Office announced that the extradition process of Murillo and his former chief of staff is already being prepared.

On Wednesday, a former member of Murillo’s security detail, and his brother-in-law, who was withdrawing money from a safety deposit box in a bank in the city of Cochabamba, was arrested in the investigation of this case.

The Bolivian Prosecutor’s Office will ask for six-month detention of arrested parties as “flight risk”.

Murillo’s hearing in the U.S. is scheduled for June 7, when the Bolivian government will request his extradition or that he be released on bail.

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