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Montevideo, May 24th 2018 - 23:18 UTC

Genocide charges await Bolivia’s former “Minister of Cocaine” deported from US

Friday, July 10th 2009 - 12:14 UTC
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Arce Gomez will have to serve a 30 year sentence in Bolivia Arce Gomez will have to serve a 30 year sentence in Bolivia

A former Bolivian interior minister accused of human rights violations was handed over to authorities in La Paz Thursday after completing a prison sentence in the United States. Luis Arce Gomez, 71, was deported and handed over to Bolivian authorities in La Paz on Thursday morning, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

“I hope last night's removal brings justice to the people of Bolivia who were victimized by the reprehensible acts that this man committed,” Michael Rozos, director of the ICE office of detention and removal in Florida, said in a statement.

Arce Gomez, nicknamed “Minister of Cocaine,” was an army colonel who helped bring the repressive regime of Luis Garcia Meza Tejada to power in Bolivia in 1980, and served as García Meza's interior minister.

Arce Gomez was convicted by Bolivian courts of human rights violations including genocide, armed uprising, constitutional violations and murder, according to the ICE statement.

But Arce Gomez did not serve the 30-year sentence imposed on him in Bolivia because he was already imprisoned in the United States on drug trafficking charges where he was sent by former president Paz Zamora.

He was convicted in Florida in 1991 and was in a US federal prison until November 2007, when he was transferred to ICE custody to begin removal proceedings.

Although Bolivia had an extradition request for his return, the United States instead used the deportation process to repatriate Arce Gomez to his homeland.

Bolivian president Evo Morales praised the US decision to extradite the convicted military officer and called on Washington to act similarly with former president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada who took refuge in the US and has been accused in Bolivia of genocide and corruption.

Sanchez Lozada was indicted in absence for the death of 65 people during bloody repressions of a week long popular uprising which ended with his ousting in 2003.

Bolivian authorities also expect Arce Gómez to help solve the killings and disappearances of leading left wing leaders in the eighties when he was king and “Minister of Cocaine”.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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