HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Drug Lord Still in US Custody Amid Debate Over Mental State
BRIEF

Guatemala Drug Lord Still in US Custody Amid Debate Over Mental State

GUATEMALA / 7 MAR 2017 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The "patriarch" of drug trafficking in Guatemala, Waldemar Lorenzana, was quietly released from US prison in 2015, it has emerged, adding a new twist to a saga that has reshaped the Guatemalan underworld.

US Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) documents obtained by Soy502 show Lorenzana, who earned the nickname "El Patriarca" ("The Patriarch") as the former head of one of Guatemala's most formidable drug trafficking networks, was released from prison on November 20, 2015.

While the reason for his release is not explicitly stated, it is almost certainly connected to multiple medical examinations to determine Lorenzana's mental state and a preliminary diagnosis of the onset of Alzheimer's in early 2015.

One court document obtained by Soy502 included the conclusion of an evaluation that the 78-year-old was not competent to stand trial.

Lorenzana "can comprehend neither the nature nor the consequences of the legal process against him or appropriately aid his defense," the report stated.

Although Lorenzana pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking following his extradition to the United States in 2014, he has yet to be sentenced due to the protracted debate over his health.

According to Soy502, the case files do not show where Lorenzana currently is, only that he is subject of more evaluations outside of the BOP's jurisdiction as he awaits a final decision on his status.

InSight Crime Analysis

Waldemar Lorenzana and his drug trafficking network once sat astride the Guatemalan underworld as key connections along the cocaine pipeline of Mexico's most powerful drug traffickers, the Sinaloa Cartel.

SEE ALSO: Lorenzanas Profile

While Lorenzana's ultimate fate remains in the air, it is clear that his one-time empire now lies in ruins. His sons, who Lorenzana tried to blame for his trafficking, are in prison in the United States after they were convicted in March last year, and little remains of the once extensive Lorenzanas network.

Debate over the veracity of the lawyers' claims that Lorenzana was not capable of standing trial will likely continue no matter what final verdict the judge delivers. But for the moment, his name can be added to the ever-growing list of major Latin American drug traffickers to secure early release after being extradited to the United States.

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