HomeNewsBriefGuatemala’s Key Witness ‘Has More Songs than Juan Gabriel’
BRIEF

Guatemala’s Key Witness ‘Has More Songs than Juan Gabriel’

ELITES AND CRIME / 2 SEP 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

An important witness in Guatemala’s expansive anti-corruption efforts appears to have given testimony leading to new advances in a number of cases, a reminder of the crucial role collaborating witnesses can play in organized crime investigations.

Juan Carlos Monzón, the former private secretary of Guatemala’s jailed ex-vice president, was interviewed by prosecutors for 14 hours on August 25, and he revealed new details about alleged corruption during his former boss’s time in office, Prensa Libre reported.

Monzón turned himself in to authorities in October 2015, and he subsequently provided evidence that he engaged in a number of corruption schemes led by former Vice President Roxana Baldetti and former President Otto Pérez Molina.

Now, Monzón appears to have provided authorities with evidence implicating a Supreme Court judge and the former head of the country’s property registry in separate incidents of graft.

As one social media user put it, “Juan Carlos Monzón is singing” and “he has more songs than Juan Gabriel,” the recently deceased Mexican musical superstar.

On September 1, less than a week after Monzón’s marathon meeting with prosecutors, special anti-corruption prosecutors charged Supreme Court Judge Douglas René Charchal with illicit association and influence trafficking for his alleged participation in a corruption plot involving a port development contract.

The charges against the judge are linked to accusations that Baldetti and Pérez Molina solicited and received millions of dollars in bribes from a Spanish company in exchange for awarding a lucrative port development contract to the firm. Charchal stands accused of using his position to help facilitate the awarding of the contract in exchange for an armored luxury vehicle.

Supreme Court judges in Guatemala are typically protected from prosecution for such crimes, but the congress revoked Charchal’s immunity in May at the request of the Attorney General’s Office.

Also on September 1, authorities announced the arrests of nearly two dozen suspects in a separate corruption case, including the former head of the General Property Registry (Registro General de la Propiedad – RGP), Annabella de León.

Prosecutors have accused de León of approving at least 16 “ghost positions” at the RGP, which paid out nearly $400,000 in salaries to “employees” who did not perform any work for the agency.

De León’s agency also allegedly paid nearly $19,000 for a breakfast for 564 people at a restaurant called Fulanos y Menganos, owned by Central American Parliament Representative Ottmar Sánchez. Prosecutors say the agency deliberately overpaid for the services rendered.

InSight Crime Analysis

Although authorities have not confirmed that Monzón’s testimony led to the recent indictment of Charchal and arrest of de León and other suspects, the timing of these actions — and the evidence used to justify them — strongly suggests a link. And whether or not this is the case, Monzón’s past cooperation with anti-corruption authorities acts as a reminder that collaborating witnesses can serve as important sources of information for authorities pursuing organized crime investigations.

SEE ALSO: Special Report on Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime

At the same time, collaborating witnesses are often offered legal benefits in exchange for implicating other suspects. This can feed perceptions that their testimony is unreliable or that these witnesses are receiving inadequate punishment for their illegal activities. It remains to be seen what benefits, if any, Monzón will receive in exchange for his cooperation, but his legal team has previously said they will ask for him to receive the lightest possible sentence even though he was at the center of former administration’s corrupt activities.

If Monzón does receive leniency in exchange for his testimony, it is likely to generate criticism from those he implicates and their allies. On the other hand, some observers have already suggested that Monzón should be awarded for his performance — with a Grammy.

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.

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 8 MAY 2014

The former interim governor of Mexico's southwest Pacific state of Michoacan has been sent to federal prison for alleged Knights…

ELITES AND CRIME / 12 DEC 2013

Mexico's Attorney General's Office has newly opened investigations into allegations that President Enrique Peña Nieto accepted funds from a possible…

ELITES AND CRIME / 22 JAN 2020

The announcement that a regional anti-corruption commission in Honduras will not continue marks the coup de grace for a body…

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…