HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Sentences Zetas to a Thousand Years in Prison
BRIEF

Guatemala Sentences Zetas to a Thousand Years in Prison

GUATEMALA / 19 JUL 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Guatemala sentenced 36 members of the Mexican Zetas gang to a combined 1,250 years in prison, including seven people who killed and dismembered a prosecutor last year.

On Wednesday, a court handed down sentences ranging from two to 158 years for crimes including drug possession, kidnapping, arms trafficking and murder, reported Prensa Libre.

One of those to receive the highest sentence was Hugo Alvaro Gomez Vasquez, alias “Comandante Bruja” (Witch Commander), a presumed leader of the Zetas faction in Guatemala. He was arrested last year over the massacre of 27 farm workers in the northern state of Peten. He is yet to be convicted for this crime, however, and he and nine others sentenced Wednesday are still under investigation for the massacre.

[See InSight Crime’s 2011 special on the Zetas in Guatemala]

The prosecutor behind Bruja’s arrest, Allan Stowlinsky Vidaurre, was killed and dismembered by the Zetas. As Reuters reports, seven of the 36 on trial were sentenced for Stowlinsky’s murder, among them Elder Estuardo Morales Madrid, another leader of the group, who was the only other defendant to receive 158 years.

InSight Crime Analysis

These sentences mark a significant step forward for Guatemala, where the rate of impunity is throught to stand at around 98 percent, one of the worst levels in Latin America.

However, despite the capture and sentencing of those responsible for Stowlinsky’s murder, the group’s power shows no signs of diminishing, and the Interior Ministry declared last month that the Zetas have a strong presence in over a third of the country.

The Zetas arrived in Guatemala in 2007, fostering ties with the now-captured Guatemalan drug trafficker Horst Walther Overdick. They shot to public attention with the slaughter of the farm laborers last year, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in Peten. The gang are particularly strong in the province, and hung banners there in March threatening to launch attacks on civilians if the government kept pursuing them.

Guatemala is set to deploy 500 extra military personnel, including 300 Kaibiles special forces, to Peten by the end of this month in an effort to counter Zetas operations in the lawless border state.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 AUG 2020

The indictment of a former economics minister in Guatemala for money laundering -- some of the very same charges he…

BARRIO 18 / 20 JUN 2018

The Trump administration’s stated purpose of “zero tolerance” of illegal immigration on US borders is to lower crime rates, but…

CONTRABAND / 29 APR 2011

The head of one of Mexico’s most important business federations said recently that piracy and contraband represented a $74 billion…

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…