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.

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

BARRIO 18 / 2 FEB 2018

This week, Guatemala’s new interior minister asked Congress to reform the penal code in order to designate the country’s…

COLOMBIA / 25 AUG 2016

Authorities in Florida have arrested a former Colombian Agriculture minister who fled there after being convicted in a multi-million dollar…

CIACS / 7 SEP 2015

(Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Presidential Candidate Sandra Torres was a member of the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…