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Investigations Police

Under the 1980 constitution, the police are referred to as the Forces of Order and Public Security, their role being defined as the maintenance of law and order. There are two separate law enforcement forces: the Carabineros and the Investigations Police. The Investigations Police is a national plainclothes organization comparable in some respects to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The 4,000-member Investigations Police are responsible for controlling and investigating serious crime. Although formally under the administrative jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense, the Investigations Police are under the operational control of the Ministry of Interior. The Investigations Police operates in support of Carabineros and intelligence services of armed forces. For example, Investigations Police operate an antinarcotics force.

Headquartered in Santiago, the force has seven substations in other parts of Chile. It functions throughout the country in support of the Carabineros. Operationally, its chain of command runs from the director general through a deputy director to the inspectors in charge of the provincial substations. Functionally, it is divided into a number of departments, including administration, foreign and internal police, health, justice, personnel, and welfare. The force also includes the Air Police Brigade, responsible for airport surveillance; the National Identification Bureau, which keeps records of all adult citizens and foreign residents and issues identification cards that must be carried at all times; and the Forensic Medicine Laboratory. In addition, the Special Units Prefecture comprises six brigades dealing with fraud, murder, robberies, vehicle theft, vice, and women's affairs.

The Investigations Police functions in close collaboration with the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and with the intelligence services of the army, navy, and air force. During the military government, some Investigations Police agents became involved in criminal activities. By early 1992, its new director, Horácio Toro, a retired army general appointed by the Aylwin government, had withdrawn more than 200 officers from duty because of their alleged involvement in drug trafficking.

Although the "use of illegal pressure" is forbidden, there continued to be mistreatment and torture by some Investigations Police units. Searches of the home and interception of private communications are prohibited by the Constitution, unless either a civilian or military court issues a search warrant for specific locations. The 1984 antiterrorist law provides for surveillance of those suspected of terrorist crimes, and for the interception, opening, or recording of private communications and documents in such cases.

The Investigations Police made important arrests among the top leaders of these organizations in 1993, but terrorists continued to conduct violent, well-armed operations. On March 25, the Investigations Police captured Lautaro's number two leader, Delfin Diaz, who reportedly masterminded a 1992 attack on the police. On August 5, Investigations Police captured Mauricio Hernandez Norambuena, number two leader of the FPMR/D, who was accused of participating in the April 1991 murder of Senator Jaime Guzman and three attacks on American government representatives in Chile.

On 29 October 1995 the Investigations Police arrested Gladys Marin, Secretary General of the Communist Party, and jailed her on charges of having slandered army commander-in-chief Augusto Pinochet. The army brought charges against Marin under the National Security Law for public statements she made on September 11 characterizing Pinochet as a psychopath and accusing him and the army of human rights violations. The army subsequently dropped the charges, and Marin was released on 21 October 1995.

On 10 April 1995 Supreme Court Justice Alfredo Pfeiffer reopened the investigation of the April 1991 assassination of Democratic Independent Union (UDI) founder and Senator Jaime Guzman, due to controversial public statements made by Jorge Barraza, the police detective in charge of the 1991-93 investigation. Pfeiffer resigned in June 1995, claiming death threats and political pressure to drop the case, and Raquel Camposano was appointed in his place. On 18 December 1995, as a result of her investigation, Camposano issued an arrest warrant for Investigations Police director Nelson Mery, charging him with obstruction of justice for withholding from judicial authorities a key surveillance videotape of the terrorist cell involved in the Guzman assassination. Separately, the judge also issued indictments against former Deputy Director of Public Security Marcelo Schilling, his assistant, and several subordinates for having illegally obtained information from leftwing terrorists in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

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Updated Friday, September 11, 1998 6:07:55 AM