SANTIAGO – President Michelle Bachelet accepted Friday the resignation of the director of Chile’s PDI investigative police, Arturo Herrera, amid a scandal over allegations that members of his force aided and abetted a prostitution ring which exploited underage girls.
In his place the president designated Marcos Antonio Vasquez Meza, who up to now has been chief of the PDI in the southern region of Bio Bio and who on Friday was received at the La Moneda palace by the president and Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma.
Government officials said that Herrera resigned by means of a telephone call to the president this Thursday while Bachelet was on a visit to Mexico, and later ratified his decision in a letter.
Herrera, after firing several commanders over the prostitution allegations, said last week during celebrations for the PDI’s anniversary that the institution had “clean hands.”
After Friday’s meeting at La Moneda, Perez Yoma thanked Herrera “for his permanent efforts to modernize the investigative police.”
He added that the new director, whom he described as “very action-oriented and with an impeccable record”, will continue the work of his predecessor for a period of six years.
Vasquez, meanwhile, expressed “respect and admiration” for the job Herrera had done and said that together with the 9,000 agents of the PDI, he is “ready to keep working for the good of public security, which is our mission.”
“The institution is on a good footing. There are some specific situations going on but I’m not going to talk about them right now,” the new chief said with reference to the scandal.
Though the prostitution ring was broken up in the autumn of 2007, the uproar over possible police misconduct began just weeks ago with the airing of a television documentary about the operation run by pimp Carlos Parra Ruis, known as “Charly.”
“Charly’s Angels,” produced by Channel 13, detailed alleged police collusion with the pimp.
The documentary said that several police detectives were regular customers at the two brothels run by Charly: the Hotel Louisiana and the Cabaret Pandemonium, both in Valparaiso.
Those detectives were allegedly protecting Charly’s operation, taking payment in the form of sessions with drugged girls.
Some of the girls also said they were taken to the police barracks to have sex with officers.
While the prostitution ring was eventually broken up by PDI officers from the Santiago division assigned to Valparaiso, Channel 13 said that neither police leadership nor prosecutors were willing to investigate the charges about cops’ collusion with Charly. EFE