HomeNewsBriefEx-Guatemala President Portillo Extradited to US
BRIEF

Ex-Guatemala President Portillo Extradited to US

GUATEMALA / 27 MAY 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Former President of Guatemala, Alfonso Portillo, has been extradited to the United States to face charges of embezzlement and money laundering, a rare result against impunity in this battered Central American nation.

The ex-president was flown to New York on May 24, nine months after Guatemala’s Constitutional Court ruled unanimously in favor of extradition.

Portillo stands accused of laundering $70 million of public money through US banks as president between 2000 and 2004, reported Reuters. According to the US indictment, Portillo set up fictitious foundations to divert funds, including from foreign governments, and stole millions from his own ministries.

Portillo was first accused of corruption in Guatemala but fled to Mexico shortly before the charges were filed. He was then extradited to Guatemala, but released while evidence was being collected.

Police arrested Portillo in 2010 as he was preparing to flee a second time and he stood trial on charges of misappropriating $15 million of public funds.

However, in 2011 he was controversially acquitted by a panel of judges that disallowed evidence and dismissed witnesses as “unreliable.” The former president is now facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

InSight Crime Analysis

The strength of the evidence against Portillo, which includes checks signed by him and his underlings, and money diverted through accounts in his family’s name, suggests he is unlikely to stage another great escape this time round.

The fact that Portillo has not been able to avoid extradition is a positive sign for ending impunity in Guatemala. However his previous acquittal and the fact that extradition was necessary remain black marks against the Guatemalan judicial system.

The decision closely follows another case that highlights both the progress made in the Guatemalan judicial system and the lingering issues around impunity — the landmark conviction of former military dictator and one time Portillo ally Rios Montt on human rights charges, followed by the overturning of that decision on technicalities.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 14 FEB 2014

Guatemala's Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz is being prematurely pushed out of office, an illustration of the ability of…

ELITES AND CRIME / 6 MAY 2018

In a move that could imperil anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala, US Senator Marco Rubio said he has halted funding for…

ELITES AND CRIME / 1 SEP 2015

For three days now, Guatemala's ex-vice president has been trying to hide in a corner, behind the biggest and swarthiest…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…