Peruvians question attorney general’s stance on jailed cocaine baron

A letter obtained by daily Peru. 21 has raised further questions about Attorney General Adelaida Bolívar’s insistence on transferring one of her prosecutors back to a jungle city post where her life would reportedly be at risk from Peru’s jailed cocaine kingpin Fernando Zevallos.

According to the daily, Zevallos sent Bolívar a seven-page letter from his jail cell in the maximum security Piedras Gordas prison on Sept. 26, 2006. The letter reportedly requested that Prosecutor Luz Loayza be denied a transfer request from the jungle city of Iquitos, in Maynas province, to the more secure capital, Lima. A day later Bolívar denied the transfer.

U.S. President George W. Bush added Zevallos to Washington’s international “drug kingpin” list in June 2004, freezing his U.S. assets and prohibiting American citizens from engaging in any transactions with him or any of his businesses.

The action was the culmination of a long-running battle with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and precipitated the collapse of Zevallos’ airline, Aero Continente, which in 12 years had grown to dominate Peru’s domestic aviation market, allegedly bankrolled by cocaine profits. DEA officials described Zevallos as a Peruvian “Al Capone,” because of his wanton manipulation of Peru’s courts, media and police and his alleged practice of silencing witnesses through bribes, threats and murder.

Zevallos was finally arrested in November 2005 on a warrant issued by Loayza, and he was sentenced to 20 years for money laundering and cocaine trafficking in a year and a half long trial that was marked by threats and murder attempts against prosecution witnesses.

According to daily La República, Loayza, 47, began to receive threats when she brought charges against Zevallos’ main enforcer, Jorge Chávez Montoya, alias Polaco, who is now a main witness against him. The threats increased after she brought further charges against Zevallos. She reportedly escaped a botched assassination attempt in April 2006.

Bolívar denied the letter influenced her decision to reject Loayza’s transfer request, which she claimed was motivated by personal reasons, not for security.

Interior Minister Luis Alva Castro last week spoke out on Loayza’s behalf, saying that her life indeed would be in danger if she is forced to return to Maynas. His office filed a formal appeal to her transfer with Peru’s Supreme Council of Prosecutors, prompting Bolívar to lodge formal complaints with Congress and the Prime Minister’s office alleging his improper interference in her office’s affairs.

Loayza’s case is scheduled for hearing by the Council of Prosecutors on Thursday. Bolívar told reporters that state attorneys should confront the inherent risk of their job, daily La República reported. “Those that don’t know how to confront pressure and threats should not be prosecutors.”

Bolívar also complained about suggestions in local media that she “could be” in league with the cocaine trade. “If somebody has any proof, publish it, and stop with the insinuation,” La Republica quoted her saying.

Former Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi, who spearheaded efforts to bring Zevallos down, told Ideele Radio that Loayza would be at the mercy of drug traffickers if she is not allowed to remain in Lima. “Prosecutor Loayza will be in serious danger if they transfer her to Maynas again,” said Rospigliosi. “We have to remember that she detained Fernando Zevallos and later led an investigation against him.”

“The message it sends to the rest of the prosecutors is very bad. It says that you will not be protected,” Rospigliosi said.

Sharing is caring!

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.