Chile seizes elderly 'drug women'
By Gideon Long
BBC News, Santiago
The women allegedly stashed illegal drugs close to a police facility
Police in Chile have arrested two elderly women after finding a stash of cocaine and cash in their house.
Maria Valdebenito, 80, who is bed-ridden, and Giselle Gilbert, 72, were charged with drug trafficking offences.
Police raided the house at night and found 2kg (4.4lb) of cocaine and around $65,000 (£45,000) in cash.
Authorities suspect the two women have been operating a drug-trafficking ring in the area for years despite their house being close to a police academy.
Prosecutors say that Mrs Valdebenito received the drugs from her contacts and passed them to her younger and more agile accomplice to sell.
The house that the women allegedly used as their base is just a few metres from Chile's biggest police academy.
Prosecutors say the women should be taken in to preventative custody while their case is considered.
But, because of their frail state of health, they might be placed under house arrest instead.
Pinochet retreat turns into marijuana plantation
By Tom Philips, The Guardian
Thursday, July 7, 2011
In both life and death it was a resting place for one of Latin America's most notorious dictators: a luxurious, 51-hectare country retreat where Chile's General Augusto Pinochet whiled away his weekends and where his ashes were taken.
But since Pinochet's death in December 2006, Chilean police claim the Los Boldos estate, about 120km from the capital, Santiago, has taken on a new role: as a marijuana plantation.
"I'm surprised," Lucía Pinochet Hiriart, the former dictator's eldest daughter, told Chile's La Tercera newspaper this week after the discovery of 182 marijuana plants was revealed. "We had no idea of what might have been going on at Los Boldos. It's open, even animals can get in. It's kind of abandoned."
Carlos Tapia Sánchez, the property's gardener, said: "I had no idea they had found a marijuana planation and what's more I have no idea whose it is."
The discovery at Pinochet's former summer getaway was made in March 2010. But ongoing legal proceedings investigating the origins of Pinochet's fortune reportedly meant that the find was not disclosed until this week.
As well as the plantation, police found two kilos of dried marijuana at the ranch, a favourite haunt for Pinochet, whose 17-year rule saw about 3,000 people executed and tens of thousands more tortured.
Pinochet reportedly purchased Los Boldos in 1994 and quickly set about turning it into a extravagant summer home, equipped with a swimming pool, a 2,000-tome library, a gymnasium and a cinema. La Tercera claimed that during his 503 days under house arrest in the UK, from 1998 to 2000, Pinochet confided to relatives that Los Boldos was the thing he most missed.
Los Boldos is no longer the bucolic paradise it once was. Rust has eaten away at its front gate and the windows of an abandoned guard-post at the entrance have been smashed. One unnamed worker told La Tercera that nobody had visited the ranch since the Chilean earthquake on 27 February last year.
A security guard warned the newspaper's reporters not to photograph the property, claiming it was a "military installation".
In an interview with La Tercera, the local chief prosecutor, Eduardo Fernández, said: "The investigation is still not definitively closed."
Chile Plans to Crack Down on Trafficking Over Bolivia Border
Written by Jeanna Cullinan, InSight.com
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Chilean authorities revealed a plan to combat drug and contraband trafficking by strengthening defenses along the country’s coastline and along the borders with Bolivia, Peru and Argentina.
According to Chile’s Interior Minister Hinzpeter, the country has become a nexus between drug-producing and drug-consuming countries. Thus far in 2011, more than seven tons of cocaine have been intercepted on Chilean ships arriving at European ports. In February of this year, U.S. authorities arrested members of a drug smuggling ring that included Rene Sanabria, former Bolivian drug czar, accused of trafficking drugs through Arica, a Chilean seaport located near the Peruvian border.
Hinzpeter announced results of a study that identified 140 overland routes used to traffic illicit drugs and materials across the country’s remote border regions. The study found 106 of these illegal routes along Chile’s shared border with Bolivia, 30 in the region that borders Peru and four along the country’s eastern border with Argentina.
The minister also provided details of Chile’s Northern Border Plan, which will involve using technology and manpower to monitor routes, inspect cargo at sea and land ports of entry and gather intelligence. The project also includes collaboration between Bolivian and Chilean police as established in a 2010 binational framework to jointly fight drug trafficking.
Chile Arrests 'Godfather' Gang Members
By Geoffrey Ramsey, InSight.com
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Chilean authorities have broken up a cocaine trafficking gang said to have been inspired by the 1972 film “The Godfather.”
On July 24, Chilean officials arrested 12 members of the so-called Corleones gang, which was reportedly named after the mafia family depicted in the film. Authorities also confiscated firearms as well as 26 kilos of cocaine base and 3 kilos of unprocessed cocaine hydrochloride.
The gang, run by the Madariaga family, operated in the southern part of Santiago. The family allegedly owned a string of liquor stores and arcades, which they used to launder profits from their drug trafficking business. The gang is also suspected of being involved in a homicide in May. According to authorities interviewed by La Nacion, the gang used symbols from "The Godfather" to mark its territory.
The gang’s leaders, Jose Madariaga and Eduardo Madariaga, are reported to have idolized the fictional patriarch of the Godfather trilogy, Vito Corleone, according to Chilevision.
InSight Crime Analysis
The Corleones gang likely sold cocaine to Chile’s local consumer market, since Chile is the second largest per capita consumer of cocaine in South America. Chile’s proximity to the cocaine-producing Peru and Bolivia, as well as its seaports that facilitate international trafficking, make it a convenient transit country for cocaine shipments. The country is also a source of precursor chemicals for its cocaine-producing neighbors.
The arrests come as a reminder that despite Chile’s reputation as a secure country with strong rule of law, the country is not immune from the influence of organized crime.