HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Drug Trafficker Waldemar Lorenzana May Have Alzheimer’s
BRIEF

Guatemala Drug Trafficker Waldemar Lorenzana May Have Alzheimer's

EXTRADITION / 27 FEB 2015 BY STEVEN DUDLEY EN

The story of the precipitous fall of Guatemala's once-feared drug trafficker Waldemar Lorenzana may now include Alzheimer's.

At one time lauded for his connections in the highest circles of power in Guatemala, Lorenzana, alias "the Patriarch," waddled into a Washington DC federal court on February 26, in a bright orange prison jumpsuit with an unshaven, expressionless face. He then sat silently in his chair and listened via a set of court-issued headphones as the judge and his lawyers talked about his mental health as if he was not even in the room.

"I don't think he's competent enough to make some decisions," presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said.

One of Lorenzana's lawyers, Joaquin Perez, echoed these concerns, saying his client did not recognize him when he visited with him in the days prior to the hearing even though he'd been representing him for close to a year following Lorenzana's extradition in March 2014 to face drug charges.

Lorenzana's exact condition has not yet been diagnosed. A preliminary evaluation by a clinical psychologist, portions of which were read aloud by the judge, said Lorenzana was "depressed" and showed signs of "poor concentration and confusion."

The judge, the prosecution and the defense agreed to submit Lorenzana to a more extensive battery of medical exams at a local mental institution, the results of which would be revealed in court in April.

InSight Crime Analysis

Lorenzana was a towering figure in the Guatemalan underworld for decades, supplying the Sinaloa Cartel and others with drugs he moved through Guatemala. (See US Treasury Department's chart of the Lorenzana organization below) But in the United States, he's seen as a small-time trafficker.

15-02-27-guatemala-lorenzana-org-chart-us-treasury

The judge -- although sympathetic to Lorenzana's mental state -- called him "Lorenzano" throughout the hearing. Lorenzana did not speak.

Lorenzana's incredibly quick slide into what his lawyer called the onset of Alzheimer's is a sign of a destitute and broken man, Perez said. That slide, according to the judge and his lawyers, happened shortly after he'd arrived in the US last year and may have impacted his decision to plead guilty to drug trafficking charges in August 2014.

For the Lorenzana family, it may only get worse. Lorenzana's son, Waldemar Jr., was extradited to the US in November. (Much of the hearing centered on opening the way for a father-son reunion.) Another son, Eliu, is on the docket to be extradited in the coming weeks. All of them face drug trafficking charges in the United States.

The family empire -- which once controlled the lucrative eastern border entry-point for illegal drugs and contraband -- now seems destined to enter the ether of the US legal system.

In the case of Waldemar, the ending appears near -- he has already pleaded guilty and, pending his diagnosis, is facing a fairly severe sentence that will likely leave the 74-year-old behind bars for the rest of his life. His mental state will make it impossible for him to cooperate with US authorities and lower his sentence, his lawyers stated during the hearing. 

The same cannot be said for his sons. Waldemar Jr. and Eliu seem poised to cooperate with US authorities. In all likelihood, those cases will be sealed but the processes may drag on for years.

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

EXTRADITION / 12 DEC 2011

Mexico has almost tripled the number of individuals it sends to stand trial in the U.S. since President Felipe Calderon…

EL SALVADOR / 16 JUN 2011

The Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13, is perhaps the most notorious street gang in the Western Hemisphere. While it has its…

GUATEMALA / 8 DEC 2010

Guatemalan Congress approved a law Tuesday that allows the state to seize the assets and property linked to criminal activity.

About InSight Crime

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

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.