Peru arrests 7 police officers associated with corruption case involving ousted President Pedro Castillo

By January 1, 2023

Lima, Peru — Peruvian authorities have arrested seven police officers who are allegedly involved in a bribery for promotions scandal associated with ousted President Pedro Castillo.   

Earlier this year, the Public Ministry opened an investigation into officials within the police force who were providing promotions in exchange for payments, and the Public Ministry has alleged officials within the administration of former President Castillo are involved.

Those detained include Generals Pedro Villanueva, Javier Gallardo, Nicasio Zapata, Luis Legua and Manuel Rivera, as well as Major Luis Tuesta and officer Jorge Tarrillo. Tarrillo was Castillo’s former security guard.

The Public Ministry made the announcement via Twitter: “The Special Team of Prosecutors Against Corruption of Power carries out an operation against the generals investigated for allegedly bribing to achieve promotion, in 2021, with the authorization of former President Pedro Castillo.” 

With a court order, the officers were also detained for 10 days while they’re being investigated.

In addition to the arrests, the police carried out 26 raids related to the case in the regions of Lima, Tumbes, Tacna, Ucayali, Chiclayo and Ancash.

Among the raided homes, the police searched for evidence inside the house of former Defense Minister Walter Ayala, who is allegedly involved in the collection of bribes to grant promotions.

Former Defense Minister Walter Ayala. Image courtesy of Peru’s Presidency.

According to the Public Ministry, in 2021, colonels Max García, Luis Legua and Pedro Villanueva colluded with General Gallardo, when he was police commander, to collect USD $40,000 from any officer who wished to be promoted.

The objective, according to investigators, was to create a group of officers loyal to Castillo, who at that time had barely been in power for six months.

Also implicated in the investigation, Bruno Pacheco, Peru’s former presidential secretary, is accused of allegedly pressuring high-ranking military and police officers to promote certain members within their ranks.

In July 2021, the former secretary revealed to the Public Ministry that, during Castillo’s administration, at least 10 police officers were illegally promoted in exchange for financial payoffs.

According to newspaper El Comercio, police paid at least USD $20,000 each for promotions and the money was allegedly collected by President Castillo’s security guards.

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo. Image courtesy of @presidenciaperu via Twitter.

In the same month, Attorney General Benavides announced that she had included President Castillo in the investigation, alleging that he headed the group that intervened in the irregular promotions.

The case of the alleged irregular promotions within the army and police force was brought to light in November 2021.

At that time, former Army Commander General José Vizcarra and former Air Force Commander General Jorge Chaparro reported that they were forced to retire for not having participated in the bribes.