HomeNewsGuatemala's Los Huistas Continue to Build Influence Network
NEWS

Guatemala's Los Huistas Continue to Build Influence Network

ELITES AND CRIME / 17 FEB 2021 BY SHANE SULLIVAN EN

Los Huistas, a Guatemalan drug trafficking group connected to a number of government officials, has continued to build its network of political influence, as recent events have shown.

In late January, the brother of Sofia Hernández, the acting vice president of congress, was arrested on charges related to a money-laundering coverup involving Los Huistas, the Attorney General's Office announced.

Henry Hernández was arrested after nearly three years as a fugitive, having first been implicated back in 2018 in a coverup that resulted in the dismissal of money laundering charges against a member of Los Huistas.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The ‘Huistas’

The 2018 investigation, known as “Huistas Impunity,” accused Henry Hernández and 15 others of falsifying documents for Juan Bautista Rozotto López, a Huistas leader who was charged with money laundering after he was captured in 2013 with 600,000 quetzales in cash ($77,000) hidden in the trunk of his car. To insulate Rozotto from criminal charges, members of Los Huistas allegedly produced a false loan document and a purchase agreement for a backhoe to ostensibly justify the cash.

Sofia Hernández, a representative of the western department of Huehuetenango, has denied any knowledge of her brother's alleged crimes.

But both of her brothers – Henry and Filomeno, the ex-mayor of Santa Ana Huista in Huehuetenango – have been extensively connected to companies connected to Los Huistas’ network of businesses, including a water park and a gas station, according to newspaper El Periódico.

Further revelations about Los Huistas' political allies have emerged in 2021. Two days prior to Hernández’s arrest, the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (Fiscalía Especial contra la Impunidad – FECI) accused the ex-director of Guatemala’s penitentiary system, Camilo Gilberto Morales Castro, and an anti-money laundering prosecutor,  Mónica Renee Palacios Cano, of denial of justice and obstruction of criminal action in the Huistas Impunity case, according to an article by Prensa Libre.

InSight Crime Analysis

In 2016, an InSight Crime investigation revealed how Los Huistas dominated an extensive drug trafficking and money laundering network in western Guatemala through connections to politicians, police and even Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.

Since then, the group's power has continued to rise, despite being the subject of investigations from FECI and the now-defunct United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala — CICIG).

These links between the congressional vice president’s brother and Los Huistas show how one of the country's main criminal groups continues to enjoy proximity to the highest echelons of power.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala Police Case Stirs Up Dark Memories

While Sofía Hernández has not been connected to any criminal activities, her familial ties to Los Huistas are significant, especially in a country with such a long history of connections between lawmakers and organized crime groups. Members of congress exert significant influence at the local and national level, including in naming and overseeing local officials and allocating funds for public projects.

Los Huistas have a history of cultivating connections to congress. Prior to being arrested on money laundering charges in 2017, congressional representative Emilenne Mazariegos was suspected of serving as a go-between for Los Huistas and Roxana Baldetti, the former vice president of Guatemala, who was jailed in 2018.

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

DRUG POLICY / 28 FEB 2012

Panama's government has stated its opposition to drug legalization, ahead of a visit by Guatemala's vice president to promote debate…

GUATEMALA / 11 NOV 2011

In an effort to increase its capacity to crack down on Latin American drug syndicates, the U.S. government has set…

EL SALVADOR / 28 MAR 2019

El Salvador Attorney General Raúl Melara has called for evidence and witness statements to be unsealed in all corruption cases,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…