Former chief of Bolivia police jailed in drug probe

2015-03-05 22:33

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La Paz - A judge has ordered jail for the retired police general who reorganized Bolivia's counter-narcotics force after President Evo Morales expelled US drug agents.

General Oscar Nina is being investigated for illicit enrichment and drug trafficking ties. He and a former personal assistant and his son were ordered held at Palmasola prison late on Wednesday by a judge in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, said prosecutor Ana Luisa Heredia.

The judge also ordered house arrest for Nina's wife and daughter, who are being probed for the same crimes, said Heredia.

She told reporters that Nina had provided favours to foreign drug traffickers and acquired at least $3m holdings unsubstantiated by his salary.

Interior Minister Hugo Moldiz on Wednesday cited "serious suspicions" that Nina and his family had links to drug trafficking.

Bolivia is the world's No 3 cocaine-producing country and a major transit and processing conduit for Peruvian cocaine. Brazilian, Colombian, Mexican and even Russian traffickers operate in the country, according to international law enforcement officials.

Morales says Bolivia's counter-narcotics efforts have improved since he expelled the US Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008.

The president, who rose to political prominence as head of a coca-growers' federation, named Nina anti-drug police chief in January 2009, shortly after he ordered the expulsion of all US drug agents for alleged espionage and incitement of the political opposition.

Nina was tasked with reorganising the counter-narcotics force, which prior to Morales' presidency had close ties to the US Drug Enforcement Administration and received everything from boots to gasoline to airlift services from the United States.

Nina was promoted to national police commander a year later. He was retired in 2011, however, after another former drug czar, General Rene Sanabria, was arrested in Panama on cocaine smuggling charges and extradited to the United States.

Sanabria was a top government adviser on drug trafficking at the time of his arrest. He pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in a US court in 2011 and is serving a 14-year sentence.

Read more on:    bolivia
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