HomeNewsBriefFormer Guatemala Interior Minister Accused of Embezzling Police Funds
BRIEF

Former Guatemala Interior Minister Accused of Embezzling Police Funds

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 MAY 2017 BY HÉCTOR SILVA ÁVALOS AND VICTORIA DITTMAR EN

Guatemala's former Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla is facing yet another set of legal charges related to his time in office and for allegedly heading a network that falsified government acquisitions to embezzle police funds.

López Bonilla and 16 other individuals are accused of "forming a criminal structure that operated within the National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil - PNC) to embezzle public funds that appeared to be invested in the acquisition of goods and services, in particular of patrol vehicles, and the contracting of works and services for substations," according to a press release from the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG), the United Nations-backed body that supports the Attorney General's Office in corruption investigations.

Ten of the accused are current or former police officials who were assigned to units in charge of equipment acquisitions, financial audits and supplying the institution. This gives a sense of how well-organized and how deeply infiltrated within the PNC the network was. The remaining suspects are legal representatives of various Guatemalan companies.

The latest accusations constitute the second phase of the case. In June 2015, authorities had already captured 12 individuals, including the former subdirector of the PNC's General Support and Logistics Directorate (Dirección General de Apoyo y Logísitica), as well as several other former chiefs and consultants of the instititution.

As for López Bonilla, the former minister is already under investigation for corruption and money laundering in two separate cases referred to as "La Cooperacha" and "Cooptación de Estado." In addition, López Bonilla was indicted in US federal court in February on charges of conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine. He is currently incarcerated in Guatemala.

InSight Crime Analysis

The new accusation against López Bonilla is further proof of just how deeply organized crime has infiltrated Guatemala's institutions. The former interior minister, who had also been in charge of the PNC and the country's prison system, is considered to be the centerpiece of Guatemala's mafia state.

During his time in office, López Bonilla subcontracted various aspects of the management of the Interior Ministry to people close to him. A government official told InSight Crime these contracts nearly led the ministry to bankruptcy.

The investigation of the "Cooperacha" case, which led to López Bonilla's arrest, showed that the money obtained by the corruption networks of former minister and other officials was passed on to former President Otto Pérez Molina and former Vice President Roxanna Baldetti as "gifts." Pérez Molina and Baldetti are also currently in prison.

Authorities working on the case stated that López Bonilla had given $98,000 to the private secretary of the former vice president to purchase luxury goods.

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

López Bonilla has also been accused of being linked with the underworld. A special investigation by InSight Crime showed that the former minister used state money to protect Marllory Chacón, whose name appeared on the US State Department's Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker list.

On the other hand, Byron Lima, the former member of the military who managed to gain control of Guatemala's prison system, said he been close to López Bonilla, and that the latter had helped him control the penitentiaries. The former minister has also been accused of receiving bribes by Jairo Orellana, a Guatemalan drug trafficker linked to the Zetas, in exchange for his security. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 28 JUN 2022

Prosecutors, mayors, prison directors, relatives of officials - are assassinations here to stay in Paraguay?…

BARRIO 18 / 21 DEC 2020

Welcome to InSight Crime’s Criminal GameChangers 2020, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas over the course of…

ARGENTINA / 29 JAN 2021

While unrest gripped much of Latin America in 2019, it was the coronavirus that took center stage and ripped through…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…