U.S. court sentences former Bolivian interior minister to nearly 6 years behind bars

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Jan 4 (Reuters) - A federal U.S. court sentenced former Bolivian Interior Minister Arturo Murillo to nearly six years behind bars on Wednesday for conspiracy to commit money laundering, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

Murillo pleaded guilty in October to receiving at least $532,000 in bribes from a Florida-based company in exchange for helping the company secure a lucrative tear gas contract with Bolivia's defense ministry.

Murillo was sentenced to 70 months in prison in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Four co-conspirators were sentenced in the United States last June, after they also plead guilty to roles in the same scheme, the department said.

A former senator, Murillo served as interior minister between 2019 and 2020 during the interim government of President Jeanine Anez.

He fled after former President Evo Morales' party retook power in 2020 and was arrested in Florida in May 2021.

Bolivia's government has requested Murillo's extradition to Bolivia, where he faces a host of criminal charges.

Anez is serving a 10-year prison sentence for her role in what Bolivian authorities say was a coup that forced Morales out of office in 2019.

Reporting by Brendan O'Boyle; Editing by Mark Porter and Chris Reese

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