HomeNewsAnalysisA Guatemala Drug Trafficking Chapter Ends in the US
ANALYSIS

A Guatemala Drug Trafficking Chapter Ends in the US

ELITES AND CRIME / 22 FEB 2019 BY STEVEN DUDLEY EN

A judge lowered the sentence of a convicted Guatemalan drug trafficker in a US court on February 22, just weeks after US federal authorities released another convicted Guatemalan trafficker from jail—both signs of the extraordinary utility to law enforcement these traffickers were as cooperating witnesses and the long trail of indictments, arrests, and other investigations that they left in their wake.

After what is known as a Rule 35 hearing—in which defense attorneys can present evidence of cooperation in order to lower the sentence of a convicted felon—a judge in Miami reduced the drug trafficking sentence of Marllory Chacón Rossell from 12 years to 5 years, a significant reduction, which her lawyers said reflected her cooperation.

"We’re grateful that the court recognized the extraordinary quantity and quality of Ms. Chacón’s cooperation and adjusted her sentence accordingly,” one of her lawyers, William Barzee, told InSight Crime.

The decision came just weeks after the US Federal Bureau of Prisons noted that it had released Hayron Borrayo Lasmibat, another convicted Guatemalan drug trafficker, on January 28. Contacted by phone, Borrayo's lawyer, Peter Raben, did not comment on his client's status.

InSight Crime Analysis

Both Chacón and Borrayo played major roles in drug trafficking through the isthmus and beyond working with numerous criminal organizations from Colombia to Mexico and nearly every country in between before getting captured and becoming cooperating witnesses—and, in the case of Chacón, an undercover collaborator.

To be sure, Chacón’s service to US drug trafficking investigations was as vast as it was consequential, including serving as the bait to lure Borrayo into custody. One counterdrug agent told InSight Crime that Chacón was “perhaps the greatest asset we have ever had.”

The list of cases that Chacón, who was sometimes called “The Queen of the South,” helped make is long. It includes significant portions of the Sinaloa Cartel that operated in Central America, such as César Gastélum Serrano, alias “La Señora,” a top cartel member who used San Pedro Sula, Honduras, as a base for a decade or more, swaying the underworld at least as much as he swayed the political elites in the region.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

Gastélum Serrano was captured in Cancún in 2015, and extradited to the US. The lawyer for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the jailed leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, later told a US courtroom that Gastélum Serrano had paid “bribes” to Honduras and Guatemalan politicians, something InSight Crime had chronicled in an earlier story about the 2007 Guatemala presidential elections.

Chacón also worked on lesser-known cases in Colombia. One of them concerned Yaneth del Carmen Vergara Hernández, alias “La Tía,” a Colombian who worked with, among others, La Oficina de Envigado in Medellin and one of its leaders at the time, Carlos Arturo Arredondo Ortíz, alias “Mateo.” Both la Tía and Mateo were arrested and extradited to the US; Mateo later asked Colombians for forgiveness in a US court appearance.

It was another Colombian trafficker who first infiltrated Chacón’s organization, according to a recent report by Univisión. That same trafficker said Chacón’s right-hand man was Carlos Enrique Luna, aka Cash Luna, the head of a powerful evangelical church in Guatemala. Luna now finds himself under investigation by Guatemalan authorities.

Chacón played a major role in the indictment of Mauricio López Bonilla, the former Guatemalan military hero turned interior minister who gave her a government-funded and trained security detail. As InSight Crime wrote, she had by then become a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant, and the DEA had placed cameras and microphones in her house in Guatemala, the same house where the then-minister allegedly accepted a bribe to steer clear of another trafficker Chacón helped corral, Jairo Orellana, alias El Pelón.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Pelón was married to Marta Julia Lorenzana, and Chacón participated in the downfall of her father, Waldemar, as well her brothers, Eliú and Waldemar Jr., all of whom were captured and extradited to the United States for drug trafficking. Eliú and Waldemar Jr. were sentenced to life in prison; their father pled guilty and has yet to be sentenced.

And then there was Borrayo. Borrayo was the main purveyor of drugs via Colombia for the Zetas, the vicious Mexican criminal organization that tried and failed to get Guatemala’s underworld to yield to its forceful tactics. Borrayo’s wife, Mirza Silvana Hernández Reyes, was also close to political powers, especially Roxana Baldetti, who was a congresswoman and later vice president.

But Borrayo had weak knees for the Queen of the South, and when she invited him to enjoy a romantic rendezvous in Paris, he hopped on a plane to Mexico, then another to France, where French authorities were waiting. He was later sent to the United States.

She was, as another counterdrug agent put it, “calculating.”

Borrayo and his wife, no doubt incensed by his throbbing idiocy, have since become collaborators themselves. His cooperation is said to have helped the US indict Baldetti, who is on trial in Guatemala on corruption charges. López Bonilla was also indicted in the US.

Borrayo was originally sentenced to eight years in 2015, and scheduled to be released on July 8, 2023, but his records are sealed, so it is not known what he did to secure his early departure. Under normal circumstances, he would be released to immigration officials who would process his deportation back to his home country.

For her part, Chacón has already served 53 months. With the 15 percent reduction from what is now a 60-month sentence, she could be released in the coming days.

"She has her whole life ahead of her now," Chacón's co-counsel, Jack Denaro, told InSight Crime.

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