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US to Seek Extradition of ex-Guatemalan Vice President

  • Associated Press

FILE - Guatemala's former Vice President Roxana Baldetti attends her hearing inside a courtroom in Guatemala City, Aug. 24, 2015.

The United States government will seek the extradition of former Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti and ex-Interior Minister Hector Mauricio Lopez Bonilla on drug trafficking charges, the U.S. embassy said in a statement Friday.

Baldetti and Lopez Bonilla were indicted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday, according to the statement. Each faces a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and knowing that it would be imported to the United States.

Baldetti's attorney, Gustavo Juarez, said they had not been notified of the U.S. allegations.

"The legal [process] is that she finishes her cases in Guatemala and later if approved she is extradited, even though she could also decide to be extradited and not fight it," Juarez said. He said he would immediately visit Baldetti in prison to advise her of the new charges.

According to the indictment, Baldetti and others conspired between 2010 and 2015 to import cocaine to the U.S.

The embassy was awaiting the formal extradition request from the U.S. Justice Department.

FILE - Guatemala's former Interior Minister, Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, is escorted by police as he arrives to a court in Guatemala City, June 11, 2016.
FILE - Guatemala's former Interior Minister, Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, is escorted by police as he arrives to a court in Guatemala City, June 11, 2016.



Baldetti was the right hand and Lopez Bonilla was the strong man in the administration of ex-President Otto Perez Molina. A member of the Patriot Party, he held office from 2012 to his resignation in 2015.

Baldetti resigned in 2015 as well and was formally charged for corruption last year. She has been in custody on charges of allowing and benefiting from an alleged customs graft scheme that defrauded the country of millions of dollars. Perez Molina has also remained in custody.

In that scheme, companies paid bribes to avoid customs duties.

Another corruption scheme ensnared dozens of people with prosecutors alleging that kickbacks from government contracts were used to buy goods and services for Baldetti, including real estate and luxury vehicles, as well as $4.3 million in gifts.

Baldetti was accused of receiving $38 million in kickbacks between 2009 and 2015 for at least 70 public works projects. On one trip to Miami, she allegedly spent $27,000 on designer shoes and clothing.

The former vice president had denied all of those accusations.

She had not faced drug charges in Guatemala.

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