07/24/2021 6:00 AM
Updated 07/24/2021 6:00 AM
On Friday, July 24, 2020, it will be remembered in the San Isidro Courts as the day on which one of the most powerful prosecutors in the jurisdiction, Claudio Scapolan (50), was formally accused of
leading a band of police officers, judicial officials and Corrupt lawyers
dedicated to setting up causes, extorting drug traffickers and stealing their drugs to market through their own channels.
Early in the morning of that July 24 - exactly one year ago - his office was raided, as well as 29 other targets, by order of the federal judge of San Isidro Sandra Arroyo Salgado.
His two secretaries (today with "lack of merit" dictated by the Chamber) ended up in prison along with a good number of Buenos Aires police.
One year after that unpublished operation, the numbers in the file are impressive:
53 people were charged and 32 ended up being processed
(15 of them with preventive detention still in force) and on the list there are lawyers and police chiefs of all colors: a major commissioner, three inspector commissioners and two commissioners.
In addition, four defendants took advantage of the figure of the repentant and contributed important data to the cause.
Sandra Arroyo Salgado, federal judge of San Isidro.
Photo: Pedro Lázaro Fernández.
In the file there are still five fugitives (it is known that two are abroad) but what seems more unusual is that it has not yet been possible to define Scapolan's situation although he was accused and finally investigated (after four failed attempts) as the boss of the band in question.
In the 12 months of the pandemic between the day the scandal broke out and today, the impressive advances in the investigation were countered by an equally significant number of requests for annulments, challenges, and miscellaneous appeals.
While on the one hand it was discovered, among other things, that
those involved stole half a ton of drugs in 2013
during the operation dubbed "White Lions", on the other hand Scapolan's fueros and influences functioned as a constant brake on the cause.
Operative "White Lions".
More than half a ton of cocaine found in 2013.
The defense attorneys for the 53 defendants earned their salary: Sandra Arroyo Salgado was challenged twice, as was the prosecutor Fernando Domínguez (still without success);
34 requests for annulment and 14 "complaint" appeals were filed with higher courts.
The last chapter of the bureaucratic back and forth was written on July 15 when in Chamber IV of the Federal Criminal Cassation Chamber (made up of Mariano Borinsky) resolved on a request to challenge Arroyo Salgado presented by Maximiliano Jarisch, one of Scapolan's secretaries.
Jarisch's movements within the case are an example of the ideas and turns that a criminal investigation suffers when the interests involved are many.
Arroyo had prosecuted Jarisch on August 14, 2020 but the judicial official appealed and on December 22, Chamber I of the Federal Court of Appeals of San Martín revoked this measure and ordered his "lack of merit."
That is, he considered that the evidence (at the time of the analysis) was not enough to incriminate him or to dismiss him.
Lieutenant of Buenos Aires Adrián Baeta, also known by his nickname "Palermo".
What happened next was that on January 21, 2021, the judge appointed Jarisch in the foundations of the prosecution of the policeman Adrián Baeta (mastermind of the theft of the 500 kilos of cocaine from "Leones Blancos") and -as it is said in the Courts- Jarisch was aggravated by this circumstance and accused Arroyo Salgado of not being impartial.
The request for disqualification was rejected by the judge and also, on June 3, by the Federal Chamber of San Martín.
New appeal through came to the hands of Borinsky who continued to run the ball.
In its resolution of July 15 - to which
- it maintained that Jarisch's defense attorneys were right in saying that the Federal Chamber of San Martín had not well founded its rejection of the challenge, which is why it sent him the petition of again, to make it "better".
While this continues its eternal process, a request to recuse the prosecutor Domínguez presented last April by the other secretary of Scapolan, Gustavo Sanvitale, is still frozen.
Judge Arroyo Salgado decided not to issue a decision on this issue until hers is definitively resolved.
Cumbersome, tiring, eternal.
Thus, the process of an investigation can become.
And it seems to be the case.
Men of power
The investigation of Sandra Arroyo Salgado and Fernando Domínguez was like a perfect storm that was talked about in the corridors but for which no one was betting a peso.
When it finally came to fruition it was a shock, because
Scapolan was not (and is not) just anybody.
For years he served as the henchman of attorney general Julio Novo, who resigned in 2017 after the accusation of covering up the crime of two Colombian drug paramilitaries at the Shopping Unicenter, which occurred in 2008. He was prosecuted for this charge but his trial is still pending. is waiting for date.
In 2013, in charge of the Prosecutor for Complex Investigations of the San Isidro Judicial Department, Scapolan played
an unclear role in the investigation of the theft that Sergio Massa suffered from his home in Tigre.
His performance earned him a request for impeachment in 2016 by Elisa Carrió.
Added to that request in 2020 were the evidence of the Arroyo Salgado case investigated by federal prosecutor Fernando Domínguez.
Despite the weight of the accusations, the impeachment process does not seem to advance and as regards the criminal case, none of the multiple pots that the file uncovered was able to achieve the definition of the procedural situation of Scapolan, who since that 24 of July 2020 is on leave.
His first strategy was to delay the moment of being investigated.
And he did it four times
On Thursday, July 30, 2020, his defense requested time to read the case.
On Wednesday, August 5, 2020, he challenged Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado (the Chamber confirmed her later).
On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, his lawyer argued that the Court had not yet ruled on the challenge.
On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, he claimed to hear before a series of recordings contributed by another of the defense attorneys of the file.
Already with full patience, on Monday, March 1,
Arroyo Salgado signed a resolution summoning him for the fifth time
for Thursday, March 4, under the threat of declaring him a "rebel", an extremely serious situation for an active official.
Only then did Scapolan introduce himself.
But then another war of attrition began: on March 18, the prosecutor Domínguez requested his prosecution as head of all the corrupt police officers who are already in prison.
And the request is still on hold, waiting for the justice mechanisms to resolve the entire flurry of appeals presented by the defense attorneys.
And surely more will come.