For many years, Luis Hermosilla’s fame as one of the country’s leading criminal lawyers was not due to his intellectual and professional merits, but to his ability to relate to political power and to charm the most important businessmen into defending him and getting them acquitted of tax offenses and other nonsense. His rise to prominence coincides, above all, with his status as advisor to Andrés Chadwick, Minister of the Interior under the late President Sebastián Piñera, a position he held during the two terms of a president who used his rapid illicit enrichment to become a Senator of the Republic and then to gain access to La Moneda.

Unlike other authentic Chilean criminal lawyers, Hermosilla’s curriculum vitae does not include any writings or pleadings before the courts that created jurisprudence or obtained prominent rulings. Hermosilla has always worked in the corridors of the old courts and other public institutions, such as the Internal Revenue Service, to achieve procedural successes and tax benefits for his clients. Of course, this was based on buying the will of the judges and the trust of the most dubious officials. For example, to obtain promotions for judges and judicial assistants, in exchange, as has been proved, for relevant and secret information that would serve to feed cases that would earn them millions of dollars in fees from “criminals in collars and ties”. In the words of Camila Vallejo, the young spokeswoman for Gabriel Boric’s government.

“Mission accomplished”, says the lawyer to the director of the PDI, congratulating him on his appointment via WhatsApp to receive, in less than two weeks, all kinds of confidential documents from the head of the Civil Police, many of which are about to be made public.

In his quest for fame, money, and power, Hermosilla has defended not only politicians and businessmen, but also horrible pedophiles, and has also distinguished himself as the lawyer of the family of the late Senator Jaime Guzmán Errázuriz, the main ideologue of the Pinochet dictatorship. In this role, of course, he abandoned his youthful militancy in the Communist Party and began to rub shoulders with the ruling class, to the extent that he even managed to enter the palace to take on the defense of the current president’s dubious chief of staff. He is accused of knowing about and covering up one of the most controversial scandals of the current government. This is the so-called “foundations” case, in which several left-wing activists are on trial for embezzling taxpayers’ money intended for the construction of social housing.

Hermosilla’s colleagues, politicians, and journalists are full of professional henchmen, given the number and power of the clients his firm has acquired at a time when corruption is rife among businessmen, uniformed officers, mayors, parliamentarians, and others. Last week, an investigation into his mobile phone revealed his close relationship with the Director General of the Investigative Police, who has already been charged with corruption and passing confidential documents to this lawyer. A police force that was rewarded with his appointment as head of the Civil Police, thanks to the “influence” exerted by Hermosilla, and of which the lawyer boasts in another of the recordings released.

This is a whole new chapter that has exposed the lack of probity in the police, but which has the potential to escalate and reveal other aspects that could compromise Piñera’s most important minister and first cousin, as well as the president himself, who has just died in a plane crash. At the same time, it exposes the additional corruption of judges and magistrates under Hermosilla’s influence, whose appointments are also suspected of being based on his favors for the political class. In a country where such appointments must be made with the consent of the executive and parliament, which belies the supposed independence of the third branch of government.

The curious thing is that the head of Investigaciones de Chile, Sergio Muñoz, has already been arrested for prosecution, but so far, the lawyer Hermosilla has not been charged for his repeated bribery of public officials, although it is estimated that this time it will be very difficult for him to escape justice with the abundance of evidence that would incriminate him. Starting with those recordings in which he urges his clients to “make money” so that he can pay bribes and save them, through his intermediation, millions of dollars in fines for their tax evasion, tax avoidance, and other crimes.

The corruption exposed by the head of the civil police comes on top of the trial that compromised his predecessor for similar reasons. All of this has deeply undermined public confidence at a time when organized crime is on the rise and drug gangs are plaguing the population with horrific and daily crimes that were unheard of in Chile until a few years ago.

To make matters worse, it is already known that the Director General of the Carabineros will soon be formally charged for his command responsibility in the grave human rights violations committed by his officers and subordinates in the social uprising of 2019. An officer who refuses to leave his post until he is tried next May, despite the demand for his resignation and the wishes of Boric’s government. A rebellious general who enjoys the explicit support of the right-wing opposition and who has fostered a serious climate of tense political relations. This could well escalate into the kind of insurrection that preceded the 1973 military coup.

In a country with an economy that is not picking up, despite the finance minister’s euphoria over last year’s slight 0.2 percent GDP growth, the truth is that it is the increase in crime and corruption that is having the greatest impact on popular disillusionment, political disenfranchisement, and democratic disaffection. This does not bode well for the formalization of the heads of our two police forces and the exposure of thugs like Hermosilla, who act with total impunity and brazenness, undermining the prestige of public institutions and their top officials amidst the confusion and indifference of the political class.