Drug trafficking

‘La Señora’ – How Spain helped capture one of the United States’ most-wanted fugitives

According to investigators, Carmen Mireya Alarcón Rivera used the country as a “refuge” as she developed her businesses in Ecuador

Carmen Mireya Alarcón Rivera, the fugitive arrested by police in Barcelona.
Carmen Mireya Alarcón Rivera, the fugitive arrested by police in Barcelona.EL PAÍS

When police found her in an apartment in Barcelona, Carmen Mireya Alarcón Rivera told them they had the wrong person. “I don’t even live in Spain, I came to pick up my husband with the lawyer,” she said.

Last Friday, the 47-year-old Ecuadorian had gone to Barcelona’s El Prat airport to try to help her husband, also from Ecuador. When he had arrived from Quito, he was arrested by Civil Guard officers after a security checkpoint picked up that there was an international warrant out for his arrest. The warrant had been filed by the Californian Southern District in the United States.

Forty-eight hours later, after being alerted again by US authorities, National Police officers located Alarcón Rivera, otherwise known as “La Señora,” “one of the most wanted fugitives” in the US. Alarcón Rivera was staying in an apartment in the Barcelona neighborhood of Vilapicina i la Torre Llobeta, where her two adult children had been living for years, although their names were on another two earlier residences in Hospitalet.

Alarcón Rivera is accused of belonging to a criminal organization that tried to transport 3,400 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia

When police found her, she was convinced they had come for her husband – not her. Alarcón Rivera was surprised to learn that there was also an international arrest warrant against her, allegedly for “belonging to a transnational criminal organization that tried to introduce by sea, over the Ecuador-Mexico route, 3,400 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia.” That is how she came to share a lawyer with her husband, who is accused of the same crime.

It was the information Spain gave to US authorities on the husband’s arrest that set off the search to find Alarcón Rivera. “And La Señora? Do you have the boss?” the US officials asked Spanish police. Officers from the fugitive department in Barcelona spent all weekend trying to find the woman, before locating her in the apartment in Vilapicina i la Torre Llobeta.

Alarcón Rivera arrived in Spain for the first time in 2001. She was a hired worker for a number of years and even managed to secure Spanish nationality. According to investigators, from that moment on, she started to use Spain as a “country of refuge,” while she developed her businesses in Ecuador. In the South American country, she appears to be linked to a large company called Ecuador Negocios dedicated to wholesale and retail sale of fish products, which was founded in 2012. According to information from US police: “She coordinated the resupply of both fuel and other provisions to boats carrying drugs that sailed without a flag or to fishing vessels, including one ship that belonged to her. In addition, she also notified of the departures of these ships and the locations of the supply points.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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