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Spanish court to rule on extradition of alleged member of Peruvian ‘Death Squad’

Former police officer Luis Alberto Mío Morocho is attempting to avoid being returned to his country of origin, where he is accused of over a dozen murders

Luis Alberto Mío Morocho, during the extradition hearing at the Spanish High Court on Friday.
Luis Alberto Mío Morocho, during the extradition hearing at the Spanish High Court on Friday.

Luis Alberto Mío Morocho, 53, left Peru in 2019 and has no intention of returning. He made this clear in the Spanish High Court during an extradition hearing to address the order to send him back to the country, which is supported by the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office. The Peruvian judiciary wants him returned to face allegations of being a member of the so-called Death Squad, a group of corrupt police officers who organized massacres of common criminals to gain prestige and promotions. Morocho has been linked to 13 murders carried out a decade ago, according to the indictment. But during his testimony in court, he and his defense team have insisted that all the charges against him are “political persecution.”

Based on this argument, among others, Morocho is attempting to evade the Peruvian courts. It now falls to the Criminal Chamber of the High Court to give the green light to his extradition, which the judges will study after Friday’s hearing with a decision expected in the next few weeks. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has concluded that all the legal requirements for the extradition of the former police officer have been met and that, in addition, the thesis that his defense has put on the table “does not make sense.” The prosecutor noted that during the last eight years, there have been five different governments in Peru with successive interior ministers. Therefore, according to the prosecution, it is impossible that different high-ranking officials have been passing the extradition order from one to another to the detriment of the defendant. There is, moreover, no evidence of this, the prosecution added.

The Spanish National Police arrested Mío Morocho on September 29, 2022, in Guadalajara. With his wife and son, he lived discreetly in the town of around 90,000 inhabitants, where he also works in a warehouse, as he told the court. According to his version of events, he left Peru in 2019 because he was the target of “three attacks” after his name appeared in the media. “My arrival in Spain was normal. I arrived at the airport and went to immigration, where I fully identified myself,” Mío Morocho said, adding the he informed the Peruvian consulate of his new address. At the time of his arrest, investigators described him as a “very dangerous” individual.

The documentation submitted by Peru states that Mío Morocho was part of a true “criminal organization.” According to the indictment, although he was a lower-ranking member of the Death Squad, Mío Morocho oversaw intelligence work and preparing the crimes. As the National Police explained, this group of corrupt agents was dedicated to “recruiting informants, paid by the organization itself, who encouraged low-level criminals to commit crimes, such as kidnappings or robberies.” This information was then leaked back to the Death Squad. In this way, the agents were able to surprise the criminals and shoot them in the act, later reporting that the shootings had been the result of confrontations involving danger to their lives. They would then fabricate intelligence documentation to justify their actions, according to the Peruvian authorities.

At Friday’s hearing, Mío Morocho’s lawyer stated that handing him over to Peru means “endangering his life.” “There is no legal certainty there. There is judicial corruption under the orders of the government,” the lawyer said. Mío Morocho said that he remained in the Peruvian police force until 2019, shortly before his departure to Spain: “Seeing that I was excluded from any type of police [action], I opted to be discharged,” he said.

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