President Pedro Castillo’s sister-in-law, Yenifer Paredes, surrendered to authorities on Wednesday evening. A day before, police and investigators from Peru’s Public Ministry searched the Presidential Palace but were unable to locate her.
According to the Public Ministry investigators, Ms. Paredes is a member of an alleged criminal organization within the government led by President Castillo and his high-level officials.
Newspaper El Comercio reported that Ms. Paredes, who currently has a 15-day detention order, traveled from Cajamarca to the Presidential Palace in Lima last Friday (one day before her capture was ordered) to hide out in the family residence of the Presidential Palace.
ESTA TARDE. Yenifer Paredes, hermana de la primera dama Lilia Paredes se entregó al Ministerio Público, tras la orden de detención preliminar dictada en su contra. Más información esta noche en la Edición Central de @Latina_Noticias con @DeltaMdelta #PuntoFinal pic.twitter.com/ReorjhRlGY
— PuntoFinalOficial (@PuntoFinalOf) August 10, 2022
Investigators from the “Special Team of Prosecutors Against Corruption of Power” and agents from the “High Complexity Crime Investigation Division” (DIVIAC) were reportedly unable to find Ms. Paredes after being denied entry for over an hour by presidential security guards.
According to investigators, Ms. Paredes allegedly used her ties to the president to help her win public works contracts for companies she’s affiliated with. Ms. Paredes is not listed as an official in Mr. Castillo’s government.
The inquiry reportedly stems from a video which aired on June 3 on news show Cuarto Poder which allegedly shows Ms. Paredes offering to manage public works projects in La Succha, a community in northern Peru, while wearing a shirt with the logo of JJM Espino Engineering and Construction S.A.C. and sitting next to the company’s general manager Hugo Espino.
Weeks ago, Ms. Paredes appeared in Congress and denied the accusations. However, she accepted having worked at Hugo Espino’s company between September and October 2021.
In October 2021, JJM Espino Engineering and Construction S.A.C. won a bid in Cajatambo, Lima to remodel a school. The bid came after Hugo Espino allegedly visited the Presidential Palace to meet with Yenifer and Lilia Paredes, the first lady.
More arrests on Tuesday
Three other suspected members of the alleged criminal organization within the government were arrested on Tuesday.
Prosecutors arrested businessman Hugo Espino, managing director of JJM Espino, and his sister Angie Espino on charges of money laundering and being part of a criminal conspiracy.
The mayor of Anguía, José Nenil Medina Guerrero, linked to President Castillo and also investigated for alleged crimes of money laundering and criminal conspiracy, was also arrested for being part of the alleged criminal network. Anguía is located in the province of Chota, in Cajamarca, where the president lived before taking office.
Pedro Castillo’s message to the country following the arrests
After the arrests, Mr. Castillo addressed the nation, describing the raid on the Presidential Palace as illegal and said that Congress, the Public Ministry and the press are colluding to remove him.
“All Peruvians are witnesses to the continual implementation of a media plan that aims to seize power illegally and unconstitutionally,” he said.
At no time during his speech did the president respond to the accusations or mention the location of his sister-in-law, who at that time was still on the run.
Mr. Castillo currently has five open investigations against him and his disapproval rating is over 70%.