HomeNewsBriefPhone Calls Illustrate Power of Guatemalan Ex-Army Officer
BRIEF

Phone Calls Illustrate Power of Guatemalan Ex-Army Officer

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 SEP 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

As the trial begins of a Guatemalan ex-military officer accused of running a bribery ring from prison, where he is serving a sentence for a high-profile murder, phone recordings presented as evidence provide an inside look at how the scheme played out.

Guatemala’s Public Ministry is using more than 7,500 recordings as evidence in the case against former Captain Byron Lima Oliva, who allegedly directed an operation from Pavoncito prison — south of Guatemala City — in which prisoners paid him to have them transferred to other penitentiaries, reported Prensa Libre. National prison service director Edgar Camargo is among those accused of collaborating with Lima.

Some of these recordings were played on September 9 during the first hearing for Lima and other suspected members of the network. In a recording from July, two men identified by Prensa Libre as Lima and his associate — ex-convict Carlos Cermeño Espina — apparently discuss the transfer of Juan Fernando de Leon Amezquita, a prisoner convicted of fraud (listen below).

Cermeño: “Hello, how are we ‘Mi Bravo’? A pleasure to greet you.”

Lima: “Do you think we can move someone from sector 13 to here [Pavoncito]?”

Cermeño: “Certainly Mi Bravo, the tango [code for transfer] is all set, but you just need to pass by the BBM and coordinate with him [another assistant]. When do you want it for?”

In another recording, the two are heard discussing payments for the transfer, reported elPeriodico.

“For you to move him I’ll give $5,000 [to Camargo, who is referred to as the ‘Lord of the Skies’] and $2,000 to you,” said Lima. 

A later recording details de Leon Amezquita happily settling into his new home in Pavoncito, reported Siglo 21

Conversations were also recorded in which Camargo and Cermeño apparently discussed both that transfer and the transfer of another prisoner (listen below).

InSight Crime Analysis

The recordings highlight the respect Lima was shown by other members of the network. This is likely thanks to his military background, a key factor in allowing Lima to construct such a major scheme while serving time in prison.

They also indicate the close relationship the transfer ring had with the prison director, and therefore the pivotal role official corruption played in the network. 

Lima is among Guatemala’s most notorious criminals, making these accusations especially noteworthy. He was convicted in 2001 of the 1998 murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi, a prominent human rights activist who had released a damning report days before his death about atrocities committed by the army. Lima is now being tried for money laundering and organized crime, and a total of 12 suspects are accused of participating in his bribery network.

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 / 30 AUG 2017

Guatemala's highest court has ruled that President Jimmy Morales cannot expel the head of the country's internationally-backed anti-corruption body,…

GUATEMALA / 16 APR 2013

The Guatemalan government is installing cameras in police patrol cars to monitor its own officers, as part of the…

ELITES AND CRIME / 20 JUL 2017

A former presidential candidate, who was also a minister during the administration of jailed former Guatemalan President Otto Pérez…

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…