Bolivian amauta (indigenous spiritual leader) arrested with 350 kilos of liquid cocaine

Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, 29 July, 2010: Bolivian indigenous leader (amauta) Valentín Mejillones Acarapi (55 years old), who handed over the staff of command to president Evo Morales when he symbolically took office in Tiwanaku on 21 January 2006, was detained a few hours ago at his home with 350 kilograms of liquid cocaine, valued at over $300,000 dollars. It's final destination was Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

The Bolivian Special Narcotics Forces (FELCN) detained Mejillones wearing his traditional Andean spiritual leader attire along with his son and two Colombian citizens who had assembled a rustic drug factory. They are accused of drug production and trafficking.

This surprise mission was carried out last night at Mejillones' home, located on Héroes del Chaco street in the Alto Lima sector of the city of El Alto, after special FELCN forces followed up on intelligence.

"I've been tricked, this is a surprise, I have nothing to do with this, I did them a humane favor, they told me this was going to be herb paste and salve", said Mejillones, who made these informative statements before the anti-drug inspector at FELCN facilities in Sopocachi.

Minister Sacha Llorenti, (of Bolivia's equivalent to the Department of the Interior) avoided making a statement regarding the detention when consulted by this newspaper.

In addition to 350 kilograms of liquid cocaine, the anti-narcotics police also confiscated caustic soda, sodium permanganate, and, according to preliminary statements by those detained, established that this cargo was to have been sent to the city of Santa Cruz.

The FELCN also determined that each kilogram of liquid cocaine is valued in the national black market at about $1000 dollars; therefore, they calculate the total value of the cocaine to be sold at $300,000 dollars.

Valentín Mejillones, who preferred to be called Siquititi Huaranca, handed over the staff of command to President Morales in an impressive ceremony in Tiwanaku.

During a congress of indigenous peoples in 1998 he was designated as the coordinator of the Elderly and Spiritual Guides of America. He was the Secretary of Culture and Education of the Federation of Neighborhood Boards in the city of El Alto, and was a "mallku" (political head of his community).

Mejillones Acarapi, during interviews given to various members of the international media, stated he had known the president since the 1980's when Morales Ayma was beginning to participate as a leader of the coca grower's movement.

Read this article in Spanish

Source: Los Tiempos
Date: 29-July-2010

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