HomeNewsBriefPanama Papers Reveal Offshore Account of Guatemala Drug 'Queen'
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Panama Papers Reveal Offshore Account of Guatemala Drug 'Queen'

ELITES AND CRIME / 5 APR 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

The Panama Papers data leak exposed an offshore account belonging to a Guatemalan drug trafficker and money launderer, providing intricate details into the shady dealings of Guatemala's prolific narco "queen."

A report by Univision highlights the involvement of Marllory Chacón Rossell, often referred to as the "Queen of the South," in an offshore company established by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The report is based on documents leaked from Fonseca that are now collectively known as the Panama Papers.

A Florida court convicted Chacón -- described by the US Treasury Department in 2012 as a major Central American drug trafficker and Guatemala's "most active money launderer" -- of drug charges in May 2015. 

Univison details how Chacón was president of the offshore company Brodway Commerce Inc. between 2009 and 2010 -- a period during which US authorities estimate she laundered $4 million in drug proceeds in Panama.

At that time, Chacón's drug activities were not publicly known. Yet Univison reports two associates also involved with Brodway had known criminal involvement and links to financial scandals.

In November 2009, the month Chacón became Brodway's president, documents show the company reported a total capital balance of $12 million. The Guatemalan store Casa Vogue was listed as a client of Brodway's. The store's legal representative, María Corina Sáenz Lehnoff, was designated by the US Treasury Department in August 2012 as part of Chacón's money laundering network.

According to Univision, Mossack Fonseca's internal correspondence also indicates that Brodway's lawyer was Guatemalan national Francisco José Palomo Tejeda -- a former member of the Central American Parliament and Guatemala's Constitutional Court, as well as defense lawyer for various Guatemalan ex-presidents.

Documents show that Palomo, who was killed by assassins in Guatemala City in June 2015, is the one who made initial contact with Fonseca regarding the acquisition of Brodway Commerce, Univision reported.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Chacón's involvement in drug trafficking and illicit financial schemes is well-known, Univision's report offers a detailed look into the complexity of her money laundering activities. Indeed, the dizzying array of names and companies -- and the relationships between them -- speaks to the scope of Chacón's operations, and points to why she became such a successful money launderer.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Money Laundering

That Chacón also had a relationship with Palomo Tejeda, a previously undisclosed fact, is further indication of how deeply enmeshed she was within Guatemala's upper class. Chacón has previously been linked to former Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti, and there are rumors Chacón donated $2 million to Baldetti's political party in 2011.

Meanwhile, the Panama Papers' revelations continue to roil the continent. In an ironic development, on April 4 the president of Transparency International Chile, Gonzalo Delaveu, resigned after leaked documents linked him to five offshore firms.

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