Guatemala will extradite a member of the notorious drug trafficking Lorenzana family to the US, in a rare instance of an extradition case being resolved quickly in the Guatemala courts.

A Guatemalan court ruled February 20 that Elio Lorenzana, the youngest son of the Lorenzana family, should be extradited to the US, where he is wanted on drug trafficking charges.

The final authoritization must come from President Otto Perez.

The Lorenzanas are a family of contraband runners based mainly in eastern Guatemala, believed to have been involved in transporting drugs for decades. The head of the family, Waldemar, alias “El Patriarca,” built a business empire that mixed illicit activities — mainly, transferring cocaine on behalf of Mexican and Colombian cartels — with legitimate ones, including construction and food export companies.

Elio Lorenzana was arrested in November 2011, about seven months after authorities arrested his father, Waldemar. Elio was indicted by a US District of Columbia court for conspiracy to smuggle drugs to the US. Guatemala’s anti-drug prosecutor has said that he was responsible for coordinating the handover of cocaine to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Lorenzana said that the ruling “violated the Constitution,” elPeriodico reports.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrest of Elio Lorenzana capped a year in which Guatemalan authorities arrested three of the country’s most notorious drug traffickers, including Waldemar Lorenzana and Juan Alberto Ortiz Lopez, alias “Juan Chamale.”

All three have tried to fight their extradition to the US, making use of a legal tool unique to Guatemala known as the “amparo.” The Lorenzanas’ lawyers have employed the amparo, arguing that extraditing the men to the US would violate their rights under the Guatemalan constitution. Neither Elio nor Waldermar are wanted on charges inside Guatemala.

Usually, the use of the amparo delays a case for years. It is therefore surprising that a court was able to resolve the Elio Lorenzana case so quickly.

Guatemala has had an extradition treaty with the US since 1903, and a supplemental treaty allowing for the extradition of those charged with drug trafficking since 1940.