Uruguay’s interior minister and two other members of the government resigned on Saturday over a case that has already prompted the foreign minister to quit, involving a passport issued to an internationally wanted drug-trafficking suspect.
Interior Minister Luis Alberto Heber, a cabinet undersecretary and a chief adviser to President Luis Lacalle Pou will no longer be in the coalition government from Monday, the president announced on Saturday evening.
Uruguay’s presidency did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Heber’s resignation.
The investigation is examining how Sebastian Marset, the alleged drug trafficker, received a Uruguayan passport while detained in the United Arab Emirates over forged documents in late 2012. He was ultimately let go.
Marset is wanted in Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and the United States on drug charges.
Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo resigned on Wednesday after the publication of a November 2022 phone call in which he appeared to suggest that his undersecretary withhold evidence related to the passport investigation.
Bustillo on Friday denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not know who Marset was at the time the passport was issued. “That’s for the interior ministry,” he told a two-hour news conference, insisting the foreign ministry had acted correctly in issuing the document.
The president, who returned on Saturday from meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, said the passport should have been issued to Marset in accordance with Uruguay’s laws.
“Do we like that a drug trafficker has a passport? Of course not,” Lacalle Pou told a press conference in his first public comments about the scandal. “But that is the current law.”
He said he was convinced that officials including Heber, Bustillo and the undersecretary “have no legal responsibility” for the passport but could defend themselves in court if a case is opened.