LA PAZ – Bolivian Jorge Perez Ardaya, father of the country’s former Interior Minister Jorge Perez Valenzuela, was accused of drug trafficking in Argentina in December 2006 and could be arrested and extradited if that country so requests, a La Paz official said on Monday.
Interior Minister Carlos Romero confirmed to the media the authenticity of a news article published this Sunday that related Perez Ardaya with Perez Valenzuela, minister of that same branch of government in 2014 and who currently serves it as a penology consultant.
Romero said that despite the fact that the drug-trafficking case dates back to 2006 and that Perez Ardaya was wanted by Interpol, the president and the Bolivian police were unaware of that information because Argentine authorities did not initiate the procedures for seeking the arrest and extradition of the accused.
He said that after the daily Pagina Siete broke the news on Sunday, he communicated with Argentine authorities that Perez Ardaya had been located in the eastern city of Santa Cruz and was being watched.
“I wish to say categorically that the national government is not covering this up and would not protect anyone (under the circumstances), whoever it might be,” Romero said.
He noted that no complaint has been brought against Perez Ardaya in Bolivia, which makes it necessary for Argentine authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest and extradition.
The case began at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires with the arrest on Dec. 6, 2006, of 19 Bolivians, including Perez Ardaya, on grounds they were smuggling cocaine.
Some had swallowed the drug in capsules while others had camouflaged it in their suitcases, according to police records cited by Romero.
Romero said the Bolivians were accused of transporting 88 kilos (194 lbs.) of cocaine, while another official document accused Perez Ardaya alone of transporting 2.8 kilos (6 lbs.) of the drug in his luggage.
Seven days later, all were freed on condition that they appear before a court once a week, but three of them, including Perez Ardaya, never showed up.