Arturo Murillo, former Bolivian interior minister under Janine Añez, has pleaded guilty in a US court to conspiracy to launder money, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday. The confession came on the heels of an investigation that began last year.
Murillo received at least $532,000 in kickbacks from a Florida-based company in exchange for helping the company secure a $5.6 million contract to supply tear gas and other lethal to the Bolivian Defense Ministry, according to the Justice Department.
He and his accomplices, who pleaded guilty last year, allegedly laundered money using the US financial system, including bank accounts in Miami. Sergio Rodrigo Méndez —also a former member of the Añez government—, and Americans Luis Berkman, Bryan Berkman and Philip Lichtenfeld are in prison, serving sentences ranging from 26 to 42 months in detention.
Murillo faces up to ten years in prison, but the date on which his sentence will be announced has not yet been set.
La Paz asked Washington that Murillo, imprisoned in the United States for two years, be extradited to Bolivia. He faces a charge of illegal arms trafficking in his home country, which he fled when Evo Morales returned to power in 2020.
Murillo, 58, was a minister during the administration of Añez, who assumed the presidency of Bolivia after the resignation of Evo Morales. He played a central role in prosecuting the indigenous leader and his key allies for sedition and terrorism.
Murillo was also heavily criticized for violent police actions in protests that ended with the death of supporters of the former president. After handing over command of the country to Evo’s ally Luis Arce in last year’s elections, Añez was arrested. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison in June, guilty of organizing a coup d’état.