SAN FRANCISCO — Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, wanted in his home country in connection with Latin America’s biggest graft scandal, was arrested in California on suspicion of public intoxication and spent the night in jail before he was released Monday morning, authorities said.
Toledo, 72, was arrested Sunday night at a restaurant near Menlo Park, said San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Rosemerry Blankswade.
Toledo, who was Peru’s president from 2001 to 2006 and has lived in California in recent years, was released without charges Monday morning, which Blankswade said is routine for most public drunkenness arrests.
The former president is wanted in Peru where authorities have offered a $30,000 reward for his capture. Peruvian prosecutors accuse him with of taking $20 million in bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht while he served as president. He has denied wrongdoing.
Peru is seeking Toledo’s extradition from the U.S. In February 2017, then-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski asked President Donald Trump to deport the ex-Peruvian president.
Blankswade said the international police organization Interpol had issued a “warning” to law enforcement agencies around the world to notify it if and when Toledo was arrested. But Interpol officials told officials in the sheriff’s office they had no immediate plans to extradite Toledo and he was released, she said.
“After reaching out to Peruvian officials and Interpol, we learned that the existence of charges in Peru alone does not authorize the subject’s arrest in the United States,” Blankswade said.
The Scandal Has Hit a Particularly Rough Note in Peru
She did not disclose details about what led to officers being sent to the restaurant where Toledo was arrested, and did not name the restaurant.
Interpol officials did not immediately return phone messages left with the organization’s U.S. office in Washington D.C. seeking comment.
In a statement, Peru’s foreign ministry said Toledo’s detention “has no relation with the extradition process underway, which is being handled with the utmost zeal and in coordination with various institutions.”
Odebrecht in 2016 admitted in a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to paying some $800 million in bribes to politicians throughout Latin America including $29 million.
The scandal has hit a particularly rough note in Peru, where nearly every living president is suspected or under investigation for ties to Odebrecht.
Former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned last year after opposition lawmakers revealed that his private consulting firm had previously undisclosed ties to the construction giant.
Prosecutors are also investigating ex-President Alan Garcia after revelations that bribes were made during the construction of Lima’s subway under his tenure. Former President Ollanta Humala was also briefly jailed in connection with the case.
All of Peru’s former presidents have denied wrongdoing. Toledo was a visiting scholar at Stanford University in 2017.