A US court has convicted two sons of a top Guatemala crime figure on international drug trafficking charges, heightening the possibility they might trade information about former associates or corrupt officials for reduced sentences.
Following a four-week trial in the US District Court for Washington, DC, Waldemar and Eliu Elixander Lorenzana-Cordón were convicted of conspiring to unlawfully import and distribute cocaine into the United States. Waldemar and Eliu Elixander are the sons of Waldemar Lorenzana Lima, alias "The Patriarch," previously one of Guatemala's most powerful and influential drug traffickers.
According to a US Justice Department press release, trial evidence indicated the brothers led an international drug trafficking organization with close ties to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.
Between 1996 and 2009, Waldemar and Eliu "received, stored, and distributed multi-ton quantities of cocaine from Colombia at their properties in Zacapa, Guatemala, for importation into Mexico and then ultimately into the United States," the statement says.
"Eliu and Waldemar Lorenzana-Cordón's crimes have destroyed families and communities," Acting Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Jack Riley said. "Their organization fed a pipeline of drugs ultimately sold on American streets, fostering violence and drug addiction. Their conviction marks the end of their criminal reign and the beginning of their life behind bars."
The US Treasury Department added the brothers to its drug "Kingpin" list in April 2010.
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Although the Lorenzana brothers have been convicted, they have not yet been sentenced. Their sentence could provide clues as to whether the pair are actively collaborating with US authorities in order to receive reduced prison terms or other legal benefits. Given the family's links to elites in Guatemala and transnational drug cartels, the brothers may be in a favorable position to negotiate.
SEE ALSO: Profile of the Lorenzanas
There was also speculation that the elder Lorenzana would become a US informant following his extradition in March 2014. However, Lorenzana's deteriorating mental condition -- his lawyer has said he suffers from Alzheimer's -- has put into question the reliability of any information he may provide. His sons, however, exhibit no sign of dementia.
Lorenzana was a towering figure in Guatemala's underworld, supplying the Sinaloa Cartel and other drug trafficking organizations with large amounts of South American cocaine. But the family empire he built has now been decimated, with the clan's key members seemingly destined to spend years behind bars in the United States.