One of Guatemala’s most notorious drug traffickers has been sentenced to more than two decades in a US prison. And his agreement to cooperate with US authorities is likely generating concern in Guatemala's underworld.
On November 30, a US federal court in Miami sentenced Marlon Francesco Monroy Meoño, alias “El Fantasma,” or “The Ghost,” to 21 years and 9 months in jail.
Working with the United States, Guatemalan authorities arrested Monroy Meoño in May 2016, shortly after the United States indicted him on drug trafficking charges. Guatemala then extradited the drug boss to the United States in November 2016.
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In July 2017, Monroy Meoño pleaded guilty to the US charges, admitting that he had used a network of go-fast boats to ship cocaine from Colombia to Central America before delivering the shipments to other organizations to import to the United States.
Following a pattern typical of many US organized crime cases, Monroy Meoño has promised as part of his plea agreement to cooperate with US authorities by providing evidence and testimony against other suspects.
InSight Crime Analysis
As one of the most powerful drug traffickers in Guatemala in recent years, Monroy Meoño is suspected to have information on the shady dealings of a number of Guatemalan elites. The revelation of such information to US authorities could be used to build or bolster cases against several powerful figures.
For instance, Plaza Pública reported that Monroy Meoño has offered to provide information against former Vice President Roxana Baldetti and former Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla, both of whom are already in jail on corruption charges in Guatemala while also facing US drug trafficking charges. (Guatemala approved a US request for López Bonilla's extradition in August, but he has not yet been turned over.)
SEE ALSO: Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime
In addition, Monroy Meoño has stated publicly that he personally gave $500,000 in cash to Jafeth Cabrera Cortez, the son of Guatemala Vice President Jafeth Cabrera, which was used to help finance the 2015 electoral campaign that brought Cabrera and current President Jimmy Morales to power. Guatemalan authorities have opened an investigation into the allegation, elPeriódico reported.