HomeNewsBriefUS Indicts Fmr Guatemala VP, Fmr Interior Minister on Drug Charges
BRIEF

US Indicts Fmr Guatemala VP, Fmr Interior Minister on Drug Charges

ELITES AND CRIME / 24 FEB 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

A US federal court has indicted the former vice president and the former interior minister of Guatemala on cocaine trafficking charges, suggesting US officials are skeptical about the ability of the Central American country's justice system to successfully prosecute these powerful figures.

According to a press release from the US Embassy in Guatemala, Roxana Baldetti and Mauricio López Bonilla were separately indicted on criminal charges of "conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, intending and knowing that the cocaine will be unlawfully imported into the US." 

(The indictments of Baldetti and López Bonilla are embedded at the bottom of this article.)

Former Vice President Baldetti is currently jailed in Guatemala as she faces several corruption cases in that country. For his part, former Interior Minister López Bonilla is already under investigation for corruption and money laundering in Guatemala. 

Although the United States has not sent extradition requests yet, the Associated Press reports that US officials say they will soon seek the extradition of Baldetti and López Bonilla. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The indictment and possible eventual extradition of Baldetti and López Bonilla strongly highlights the doubts the United States has in the efficacy of Guatemala's criminal justice system. 

In the past, the United States has strongly supported anti-corruption efforts in the Central American country, most prominently those of the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG). The commission's work helped to initially bring down Baldetti and her president, Otto Pérez Molina, who have been accused of running the country like a "mafia state."

However, Guatemala's justice system has shown continuing signs of weakness when prosecuting former top officials accused of wrongdoing. It is possible that the new US indictments against Baldetti and López Bonilla could be intended as a kind of "Plan B" in case the trials against these powerful figures unravel in Guatemala.

There is a precedent for such an action. After a Guatemalan court acquitted former President Alfonso Portillo of corruption charges in 2011, he was extradited in 2013 to the United States, where he eventually faced jail time on money laundering charges.

SEE ALSO: Special Investigation: Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Furthermore, the indictments against Baldetti and López Bonilla represent a clear message from the United States not only to corrupt elites in Guatemala, but also to those in other countries in the region, particularly Honduras and El Salvador. If those nations cannot or will not hold corrupt officials accountable, the United States is prepared to take action to ensure they face justice.

If Baldetti and López Bonilla are eventually extradited, the question will arise about whether they will strike plea deals with US prosecutors that would require them to provide information about other Guatemalan elites suspected of criminal activities. Given the expansive scope of the various corruption schemes uncovered in recent years in Guatemala, in addition to Baldetti and López Bonilla's experience in high positions of government, the testimony these former officials could provide would likely implicate various other powerful figures in Guatemalan society.

Baldetti indictment:

López Bonilla indictment:

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 24 MAR 2022

The 2021 ranking of the world's most violent cities predictably features a heavy presence by Latin American and Caribbean population…

BRAZIL / 24 FEB 2022

Law enforcement in Latin America and Europe have disrupted a cocaine smuggling network that reached from Bolivia to Dubai, resulting…

COCAINE / 29 JAN 2021

The mayor of Moyuta, Guatemala, knows how to do politics and business along the rough and tumble Guatemalan-Salvadoran border.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…

WORK WITH US

Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.