Bolivia: Morales’ former anti-drug chief is sent to jail

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian justice decided to send to jail the person who was the anti-drug chief during the last year of the government of former President Evo Morales for suspicions of legitimizing illicit profits.

The Prosecutor’s Office accused Maximiliano Dávila after being arrested on Saturday before entering Argentina for links to drug trafficking and legitimization of illicit profits. The anti-corruption judge, Elmer Laura, sent him on Monday to a jail in downtown La Paz while the investigation for flight risk lasts. At the moment it is estimated that it could be six months.

The Prosecutor’s Office presented as evidence that in recent weeks the former colonel withdrew $42,600 from the bank without justifying the origin of the money.

The arrest occurred after an investigation by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) into a drug trafficking network that last year in Colombia arrested Omar Rojas, a former Bolivian police officer, and in Peru a Jorge Roca Suárez, alias “Cecho de Paja”, who has already served a 27-year sentence in a United States prison.

The investigations related Dávila to Rojas. Other former police chiefs are also suspected, including Alexander Rojas, brother of the detainee.

The Minister of Government, Eduardo del Castillo, said the day before that they are waiting for the DEA report that they have requested from the United States Embassy in La Paz.

Bolivia and the United States only have representation of business managers after the Morales government expelled the ambassador from Washington in 2009 and later did so with the DEA for alleged espionage, which was denied by the US embassy.

Dávila’s arrest aroused mistrust in the opposition because they believe they are seeking to protect him and prevent him from being extradited to the United States. They also asked that other police chiefs be included.

The former police colonel was in charge of the fight against drugs until Morales resigned in November 2019. A year later, after the assumption of Luis Arce, Morales’ political heir, he was appointed commander of the central region of Cochabamba.

This is not the first case of police links with drug traffickers. In 2011, the DEA arrested René Sanabria, another anti-drug chief.

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