The U.S. late Wednesday has formally requested the extradition of Roxana Baldetti, the former Guatemalan vice-president, after she was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in February 2017 on drug trafficking charges.
Baldetti was charged for distributing nearly five kilograms of cocaine from January 2010 to May 2015, knowing that it would be illegally imported to the U.S. The Depart of Justice had made it clear at the time that the U.S. would be serving a formal extradition notice to the former Guatemalan vice-president at a future date. The news that the U.S. is moving forward with the extradition request was announced by Guatemala’s foreign ministry, the Washington Times reported.
Baldetti served in former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina's government, who was impeached over corruption charges. Both Perez Molina and Baldetti resigned from their posts in 2015, following nationwide anti-corruption protests. Both of them were charged with a high-profile corruption scandal known as “La Linea” where the duo took at least $25 million in bribes from a Spanish port company, among similar “gifts” from other companies, BBC reported.
In addition, Perez Molina was accused of money laundering and illegal campaign financing. Baldetti was arrested in August 2015, three months after she submitted her resignation.
The former vice president was also involved in a different corruption scheme, in which she used the kickbacks from government contracts to buy real estate, luxury vehicles, and $4.3 million worth of gifts. Baldetti received $38 million in kickbacks between 2009 and 2015 for at least 70 public works projects, CBS News reported.
She was also known for her expensive taste as she reportedly went on a shopping spree during a trip to Miami where she bought designer shoes worth $27,000 and clothing. According to NDTV, she bought a helicopter with the illicit funds.
Baldetti is currently serving time in Guatemalan prison along with ex-Interior Minister Hector Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, who has been charged with embezzlement.
Baldetti has denied the charges pressed aginst her, according to the CBS News report. Back in February 2017, Gustavo Juarez, Baldetti’s attorney stated in a statement from his client, where she called the charges “one more of the lies in the persecution I have suffered since 2015. I have never participated in this type of activity, neither before I was vice president nor after.”
One of the bases of her lawyers denying the drug trafficking charges could be the fact that Baldetti has never been charged with distributing drugs in her own country.
Baldetti is married to Mariano Paz, and they have two children, Luis Pedro and Mario, Panam Post reported.
The Guatemalan foreign ministry would be forwarding the formal extradition request for Baldetti to the court which is handling her case. Further details regarding the date and time of the extradition have not been revealed yet.