The Guatemalan authorities confirmed the detention of a plane belonging to the former Panamanian president, Ricardo Martinelli, at the country’s international airport, by the anti-drug attorney general’s office at the request of the US authorities.
The Guatemalan authorities said in a statement that the operation was carried out by the Anti-Drug General Prosecutor’s Office, with the support of a special unit focused on crimes at airports.
The statement did not mention Martinelli’s whereabouts, and it was not clear the reasons for the US request for this operation.
For his part, the former Panamanian president said on his Twitter account that the registered plane, “N799RM”, was purchased in 2005 and is currently in the process of changing its flag.
He added that the prosecution that carried out the arrest was assigned to the process because it performs functions at the airport, but he denied that the operation was linked to combating drug smuggling.
En trámite, el cambio de bandera en Estados Unidos, de avión comprado en el 2005, retenido hoy en Guatemala. Fiscalia que ejecutó procedimiento, fue asignada en razón de que realiza sus funciones en el aeropuerto. Requerimiento no tiene nada que ver con sus funciones habituales.
– Ricardo Martinelli (@rmartinelli) February 27, 2021
It is worth noting that Martinelli, who served as president from 2009 to 2014, was extradited from the United States and imprisoned in Panama on charges of using public money to spy on his political opponents while in office, while he was released in 2019 after his conviction, and last year. He was prevented from leaving the country while he was being investigated for money laundering.