MIAMI (AP) — United States prosecutors charged a former Guatemala economy minister Wednesday in a purported money laundering conspiracy that allegedly took drug proceeds and converted them into bribes for corrupt politicians.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida alleges that Acisclo Valladares Urruela helped to launder nearly $10 million in ill-gotten money between 2014 and 2018. His alleged co-conspirators included a drug trafficker, a corrupt politician and a back employee.
“Valladares Urruela regularly received backpacks, duffel bags, and brief cases full of dirty, untraceable cash that he knew came from drug trafficking and corruption and used it to bribe Guatemalan politicians,” according to the complaint affidavit.
At least two Miami companies helped move the money to South America, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Valladares is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Valladares served in the administration of former President Jimmy Morales. He is considered a fugitive in Guatemala, where prosecutors have accused him of money laundering and illegal association. He lost his immunity Jan. 14 when Morales left office.
His father, Acisclo Valladares Molina, is Guatemala’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. He said via Twitter on Wednesday that the accusations have nothing to do with his son’s performance as economy minister or any state funds. He dismissed the claims as a “subtle revenge” by drug traffickers against the elder Valladares.
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