HomeNewsBriefGuatemala’s Customs Scandal Reaches Private Sector
BRIEF

Guatemala’s Customs Scandal Reaches Private Sector

ELITES AND CRIME / 16 OCT 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A Guatemala judge has barred 50 businesspeople from leaving the country, marking a new phase in the investigations into an enormous customs fraud ring that have already led to the incarceration of a former president and vice president. 

The judge ordered the ban following a request by prosecutors that the suspects not be permitted to leave the country, reported Prensa Libre. Last week, Guatemala’s Attorney General Thelma Aldana said more than 1,500 businesspeople participated in the customs fraud ring, commonly known as “La Linea,” which involved importers paying artificially lowered taxes in exchange for bribes. 

Among the suspects prohibited from leaving the country are South Korean importers, according to Prensa Libre.

Meanwhile, El Salvador’s Attorney General, Luis Martinez, announced prosecutors in that country have opened an investigation into former Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti for money laundering, reported La Prensa Grafica. Guatemalan prosecutors have accused Perez Molina and Baldetti of running La Linea, and both are currently in prison facing charges of fraud, among others. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The decision by Guatemalan authorities to ban importers from leaving the country represents a new chapter in the investigations into La Linea. Until now, prosecutors have only taken significant legal action against those who operated the fraud ring, which included both government officials and non-state actors. Authorities are now targeting the importers complicit in the criminal network, who make up the third set of suspects involved in La Linea.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

The recent comments by Attorney General Aldana indicate the investigations into the private sector will likely be far-reaching, and could ensnare importers from a variety of nations. In addition to South Koreans, Salvadoran entrepreneurs are also suspected of having connections to alleged La Linea operators. In fact, a separate investigation into a Chinese importer is what led prosecutors to investigate the customs fraud ring in the first place.

As for Perez Molina and Baldetti, it is unclear how — or if — the money laundering investigation in El Salvador will affect their cases in Guatemala. However, it certainly appears the pressure is piling up on the disgraced presidential duo. In the last month, the two alleged top operators of La Linea have testified against the former president and vice president, including statements that the pair collected nearly half of all illicit earnings derived from the criminal network. 

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

GUATEMALA / 14 OCT 2014

A report allegedly produced for US anti-drug and intelligence agencies has detailed how corrupt factions of Guatemala's police -- including…

EL SALVADOR / 13 MAR 2019

The US Treasury Department extended economic sanctions imposed on PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-run oil company, to two of its subsidiaries in…

CACHIROS / 30 AUG 2017

A former minister and member of one of the richest families in Honduras has pleaded guilty in a US court…

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…