The former Chief of Police of Colombia’s capital Bogota was arrested on Wednesday over his alleged role in an unfolding wiretap scandal.
Retired General Humberto Guatibonza is accused of requesting illegal wiretaps with a company formed by several former military officials and a “hacker” of Colombia’s Information Technology Ministry.
Guatibonza, who is currently held at the Prosecutor General’s Office in Bogota, is just one of a growing group of top government officials, politicians and businessmen suspected of using illegal wiretapping for a variety of purposes.
One of the prime suspects in the case, retired Colonel Jorge Humberto Salinas, has also accused Senator Armando Benedetti of requesting the wiretapping of the phone of nobody less than Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez and his wife, according to W Radio.
Guatibonza, Benedetti and an undisclosed group of other suspects allegedly hired Salinas’ company, JHS Consultores, to illegally wiretap state agencies and the private sector, specifically the country’s oil industry, and individuals suspected of infidelity.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, JHS consultores was hired to conduct illegal activity in 175 cases. Weekly Semana reported last week already that the company could hace wiretapped as many as 1,000 people.
The spy scandal is the third in Colombia in the past decade.
The 2008 DAS wiretap scandal revealed that the office of former President Alvaro Uribe was using now-defunct state intelligence agency DAS to illegally spy on the Supreme Court, rival politicians, journalists and human rights activists.
Colombia’s current Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, who was the president of the Senate at the time, was given illegally obtained intelligence information to discredit Senator Piedad Cordoba, a leftist opponent of Uribe.
The former president became the center of a second spy scandal in 2014 when investigators found out that his political party, the Democratic Center, was conspiring with rogue elements within the military to spy on peace talks with the FARC, the former guerrilla group that demobilized last year.