Paraguay leader’s son arrested after Bal Harbour party guest is punched

Juan Pablo Cartes' booking mugs.
Juan Pablo Cartes' booking mugs.
Miami-Dade Corrections

The oldest son of the president of Paraguay was arrested after a late night of drinking for allegedly punching a guest outside a party he hosted in his lavish Bal Harbour condo, authorities said.

“I wish to apologize for this bad moment, even though it wasn’t my fault,” Juan Pablo Cartes Montaña said by telephone Monday. “It’s one of my worst days. I’d rather not get into details.”

Cartes, 28, had organized a “social gathering” Saturday night in his condo at 9705 Collins Ave., part of the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort complex.

The 2,000-square-foot apartment, valued at $2.8 million, is owned by 9701 Collins 803 LLC, whose manager is Sarah Cartes, the sister of the Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, according to information from the Miami-Dade County appraiser’s office and the Florida Division of Corporations. The corporate entity was created in October 2011, and three months later it bought the apartment.

During the party, which lasted into the wee hours of Sunday, Cartes and a guest got into an argument. The guest was asked to leave, and the building’s security staff escorted him out, the arrest report says.

While the guest was in the lobby with the security personnel, Cartes punched him in the left eye, according to police, who arrested him at 4:45 a.m. Sunday.

A statement by the Paraguayan government, quoted by the country’s news agency Ipparaguay, said, “The Cartes family deplores this incident and hopes it is quickly cleared, according to the laws of that country, where Juan Pablo Cartes is undertaking higher studies.”

However, Cartes, who told police he is studying at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson campus, is taking only non-credit classes in English as a Second Language, according to a college spokesperson.

Cartes, who has no prior police record in Miami-Dade County or any record of incidents at Miami Dade College, was charged with a misdemeanor. After spending a few hours at the Turner Guilford Knight jail, Cartes posted $1,500 bail and was released.

Bal Harbour police said it did not plan to identify the victim until the incident report is completed.

The corporate entity that owns the apartment where Cartes lives is one of five with names and addresses that show Sarah Cartes as manager and the company SKRLD Inc. as their registered agent. All five were created in 2011.

Sarah Cartes, the Paraguayan president’s younger sister, took over as manager last August, and is in charge of the enterprises of the Cartes group, according to reports by the Paraguayan media. Horacio Cartes announced, after taking office as president, that he had divested himself of all stock in the enterprises, which include tobacco and soda companies and management of a soccer team.

Two cables released by WikiLeaks associated Horacio Cartes with money-laundering and drug-trafficking activities, The Associated Press reported in August.

According to one of the cables sent from the American embassy in the Paraguayan capital, Asunción, to the State Department in 2007, the Paraguayan anti-drug chief at the time, Hugo Ibarra, said that Gabriel González, director of Money Laundering Prevention, told him that Cartes laundered dirty money through the Amambay bank.

Responding to reports published by several media outlets in Paraguay, Cartes said: “Go to the Judicial Power and check it out. There is nothing, not one denunciation against me. I have for years been a public figure in soccer, but immediately after entering politics, stories like this were divulged by bad people.”

Paraguay’s consulate in Miami declined to comment on the arrest of the president’s son.

In an interview with the publication Ultima Hora in August, Juan Pablo Cartes said he planned to go unnoticed in Miami.

“There is a lot of public exposure. We must now be even more discreet than before,” he said. “Sometimes it upsets me being watched all the time, but we all put on our T-shirts for our father and face the situation as it comes.”

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