Ex-Bolivian “Minister of Cocaine” deported to face genocide charge

A former Bolivian interior minister Luis Arce Gómez, 71, was deported July 9 to La Paz, where he is accused of human rights violations. "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 US Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) office of detention and removal in Florida, said in a statement.

Arce Gómez, dubbed "Minister of Cocaine," was an army colonel who helped bring the regime of Luis García Meza Tejada to power in Bolivia in 1980, and served as García Meza's interior minister. He faces 30 years imprisonment in Bolivia, where he was convicted in absentia of genocide, armed uprising, constitutional violations and murder. He was convicted of drug charges in the US in 1991. He was transfered to ICE custody upon his release in 2007. Although Bolivia had an extradition request for his return, the US instead used the deportation process to repatriate Gómez.

Upon his arrival in La Paz, Arce Gómez was transfered to Chonchocoro prison. Through his attorney, he offered a deal to the Bolivian authorities in which he would reveal the whereabouts of the remains of "disappeared" from the García Meza regime—including socialist leader Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz—if the charge against him is annulled. (EFE, La Prensa, La Paz, July 12; CNN, July 9)

See our last post on Bolivia.

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