Mauricio Fernando Maya of Mexico (L) and laughing "go lucky" Letizia Bethania of Paraguay (top C) are escorted from a courthouse where they refused to make statements after being formally charged with attempting to smuggle 40 kg (8.18 pounds) of ephedrine concealed in sacks of starch to Mexico, in Asuncion March 4, 2010.
Asuncion, Paraguay - A Mexican citizen, a National Police officer and two women have been arrested for trying to smuggle ephedrine into Mexico, the Paraguayan Attorney General’s Office said on Thursday.
Mauricio Maya, a Mexican national, was arrested Wednesday night at a house in Asuncion after the seizure of between 30 and 40 kilos of the substance in the capital, the AG’s office said.
Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are used to manufacture methamphetamine, an illegal stimulant.
The ephedrine was “hidden in a shipment of starch bound for Mexico,” prosecutor Francisco Jose De Vargas, who is in charge of drug cases, told reporters.
Maya and the other suspects, identified as National Police purchasing chief Aristides Galeano and sisters Marcia and Leticia Aranguren, “are closely linked to this attempt to send” drugs out of the country, De Vargas said.
Mexican Mauricio Maya (L) is taken by members of the Paraguayan police after been captured last Thursday night with a shipment of 30 or 40 kilos of ephedrine hidden in a shipment of yucca starch heading to Mexico, Asuncion, Paraguay, on 4 March 2010.
The suspects were apparently just small-time smugglers, but they may have been planning to create a firm to “cover up trafficking in ephedrine,” De Vargas said.
The prosecutor said he planned to ask a judge to hold the suspects on charges that they dealt in banned substances.
The four could get between two and five years in prison if convicted.