HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Corruption Scandal Leads Investigators to Judicial Corruption
BRIEF

Guatemala Corruption Scandal Leads Investigators to Judicial Corruption

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 MAY 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The latest development in the corruption case that has toppled Guatemala's Vice President has brought the anti-impunity campaigners behind the investigation into confrontation with an old foe that is threatening to undermine their efforts -- corrupt judges.

On May 8, Guatemalan authorities arrested three lawyers representing defendants in the "La Linea" customs fraud corruption case that forced Vice President Roxana Baldetti to resign her post. The lawyers stand accused of running what investigators are calling a "Law Firm of Impunity," which offered clients access to corrupt contacts in the judicial system.

In the La Linea case, the alleged corrupt contact was judge Marta Josefina Sierra Gonzalez de Stalling. According to the United Nation's International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which launched the investigation, phone intercepts show how leading defendants in the case were able to obtain unguarded house arrest instead of prison and a reduction in bail by using the lawyers to pay off the judge.

In addition to the arrests, the CICIG has filed a request for the judge to be removed from the case and impeached.

The scandal has also drawn in the president of the criminal chamber at the Supreme Court, Blanca Stalling, whose name was also mentioned in the intercepted conversations, reported The Associated Press. However, Stalling told Prensa Libre it was a case of mixing up the names of the two judges -- Gonzalez de Stalling is Stalling's sister-in-law.

InSight Crime Analysis

The La Linea case -- in which former Vice President Baldetti's private secretary allegedly led a corruption network that made millions off customs tax fraud -- has shaken the foundations of Guatemala's political system and looks set to have the deepest impact of any investigation in the CICIG's eight year history.

However, to successfully convict the powerful figures behind the alleged fraud ring, the CICIG and prosecutors will first have to overcome deeply ingrained judicial corruption, which has long served to ensure such elites enjoy widespread impunity.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

The CICIG will be acutely aware of this, having dedicated considerable resources to exposing such corruption in the past. The "Law Firm of Impunity" investigation follows on from the body's 2012 report "Judges of Impunity," which identified 18 judges who had consistently made unjustified decisions favoring organized crime groups.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 DEC 2014

A report on Guatemala's registry of state contracts has identified several major issues that have dampened the effectiveness of what…

GUATEMALA / 1 JUL 2016

Criminal groups are burning huge swathes of protected forests in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve to put down more…

EL SALVADOR / 25 OCT 2013

The main witness in the case against a major drug trafficker and his network in El Salvador has appeared in…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…