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. 

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

COCAINE / 30 DEC 2020

Venezuela has long been known as a strategic rearguard for Colombia guerrilla groups. Yet 2020 saw the acceleration of a…

EL SALVADOR / 14 APR 2014

Authorities in Central America have dismantled a drug trafficking organization the stretched between Guatemala and El Salvador and was responsible…

GUATEMALA / 25 MAY 2011

A Guatemalan prosecutor investigating a recent massacre involving the Zetas, a Mexican drug gang, was found mutilated and murdered in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…