GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan court ordered on Thursday the extradition to the US of former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, but the order will not become effective until certain pending judicial matters are resolved.
Baldetti is accused of receiving bribes and having security provided for her by Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel in exchange for allowing drugs to pass through the country, and during a court audience she voluntarily agreed to be extradited to demonstrate her belief that she is “innocent.”
The former VP testified by videoconference from Santa Teresa prison, where she is being held, saying that the accusations against her are “revenge” and “persecution” by her “many enemies,” and she reiterated that she would never put the lives of her children or her family at risk.
“I declare myself to be innocent, Your Honor. I did not collaborate, I did not help (Los Zetas) because I have two children and I know that those people take your life in payment,” adding that she did not transform herself into a drug trafficker for $250,000.
According to the investigation, Baldetti allegedly received up to $250,000 from the Mexican drug cartel when she was a candidate for the Patriot Party, an election which she and her presidential running mate Otto Perez Molina won.
In exchange for the cash, she allegedly used her influence to allow Los Zetas to transport cocaine through Guatemala to Mexico, from where it was ultimately to be shipped to the US.
Prosecutors also say that Baldetti allegedly asked Los Zetas to provide her with armed security during her campaign rallies between November 2010 and January 2012.
Baldetti became vice president in November 2011, when she won the runoff election together with Perez Molina, who is also in custody for his alleged involvement in several corruption cases.
Serving as vice president from 2012-2015, Baldetti was arrested in August 2015 and is facing charges in Guatemala for allegedly being one of the leaders of the customs fraud operation known as La Linea, along with other illegal activities.