The media and political landscape are abuzz since the early hours of the morning covering the arrest of Alejandro “Monkey” Minnicelli, who was captured recently after being on the run for nine months. Minnicelli has been accused of smuggling and money laundering as a member of the so-called “containers mafia” (more on that later) and was one of the ten most wanted criminals in Argentina.
Now, the reason why this case is getting so much attention in the media is because Minnicelli is the brother-in-law of former Planning minister Julio De Vido during the Kirchner administrations, who you may remember a few days ago was on the verge of losing his Lower House seat after deputies tried to have him removed. And some seem to think that because they are related, this means that it’s now just a matter of time before the former minister joins him in a cell.
However, and at least judging by the available information so far, this is not likely. The charges against Minnicelli in no way involve his brother-in-law. De Vido has his own criminal cases to deal with — and quite a few of them — but these latest developments don’t affect him in any way. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop some pundits out there from politicizing the announcement and pushing this narrative.
Security Minister Patricia Bullrich illustrated this when addressing Minnicelli’s capture.
El cuñado de DeVido , Mono Minicelli , detenido en Mar del Plata por la Comisaría 8 de la PBA. En la Argentina la impunidad se termina !!
— Patricia Bullrich (@PatoBullrich) August 7, 2017
“De Vido’s brother-in-law, “Monkey” Minnicelli, arrested in Mar del Plata by Buenos Aires Province Police Station 8. Impunity is ending in Argentina!!,” the tweet reads.
Announcing an arrest on charges of money laundering and contraband, and being able to include the name of one of the previous administration’s high-ranking officials in the same tweet can also be used as a political message, especially less than a week from the midterms’ primaries.
Bullrich continued to suggest a link between Minnicelli and members of the Kirchner camp (De Vido) alleging that it’s highly likely that he had “some sort of help or assistance during these more than nine months he spent evading justice.”
“Maybe he had political protection, rather than protection from a security force,” she said.
The main candidates of the Cambiemos coalition also celebrated the arrest, highlighting it as a milestone in their fight against corruption. “He was part of a corrupt system and we have to make an effort to change it because it has to do with the way we want to live as Argentines,” said in a radio interview Guillermo Montenegro, who is running for a seat in the Lower House representing the Buenos Aires Province
“When I see him in handcuffs, I say we will move forward with the investigation and that what we all know we’ll be proven right. I hope the judiciary acts swiftly,” said Gladys González, candidate for Senator in the Province.
Minnicelli was arrested yesterday night in the coastal town of Chapadmalal, in the Province of Buenos Aires. Economic crimes judge Marcelo Aguinsky had issued a national and international arrest warrant nine months ago after Minnicelli failed to testify before him, in the context of an investigation in which he had been charged.
Law enforcement officials found him after being tipped by a local resident, who offered the information in exchange for the AR $250,000 the Security ministry began offering as a reward ten days ago.
Minnicelli was moved to Buenos Aires City this morning and taken to the Federal Courthouses of Comodoro Py to finally appear before Aguinsky. However, he used his constitutional right and refused to answer questions.
In his investigation, Aguinsky considered there was enough evidence to suspect that Minnicelly was involved in the so-called “container mob”, a smuggling group thatm with the connivance of public officials working at the customs agency, smuggled goods that had been made in China into Argentina.