LA PAZ – Jorge Perez Ardaya, the father of Bolivia’s former interior minister, Jorge Perez Valenzuela, turned himself in to Interpol on Tuesday, hours after Argentine reactivated an arrest warrant for him in a 2006 drug trafficking case.
Ardaya arrived at the Interpol office in the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz shortly after his son announced to the media from that city that his father would turn himself in.
“My biological father made telephone contact with me. He told me that he had never hidden, that nobody had ever sought him, ... and that he would appear before the authorities during the morning,” said Perez Valenzuela.
The former minister, who served in the post in 2014 and is currently a penology consultant for the Interior Ministry, said that no state law enforcement institution had told him anything about why his father had turned up on the Interpol Web site as a wanted man.
“I’m not the one to judge ... the conduct of my biological father. That I leave to God and the authorities,” said Perez Valenzuela after noting that his father had distanced himself from his family many years ago and there had been no relationship between them for many years.
In addition, an Interior Ministry official told the media on Monday – after the department’s chief, Carlos Romero, said on Monday that to make a arrest it was necessary for the Argentine police to reactivate the arrest warrant – that Buenos Aires had done exactly that.
Romero had told the media on Monday that despite the fact that the drug trafficking case dates back to 2006 and that Perez Ardaya was wanted by Interpol, 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 was in touch with Argentine authorities to tell them that Perez Ardaya had been located in Santa Cruz and was being watched.
He noted that no complaint has been brought against Perez Ardaya in Bolivia, which made it necessary for Argentine authorities to re-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.