Odd Bedfellows

June 26, 2017 North America , OPINION/NEWS

By

Ricardo Swire

 

The United States Court for the District of Columbia’s February 17, 2017 indictment of Roxana Baldetti, Guatemala’s former Vice-President cited “criminal association and conspiracy to traffic drugs,” charges that showcased the relationship between a power driven politician and the criminal underworld.

According to Guatemalan National Police the former Vice-President accepted money and gifts from Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, during her 2011 electoral campaign. In return the Mexicans used Guatemalan land and maritime routes as safe passages for cocaine shipments.

Los Zetas has a see-saw track record on the regional organized crime scene. In the recent past members joined forces with “Los Caraduras,” a disreputable Guatemalan trafficking clan. US$230,000 in bribes were offered to local government officials, refusals threatened with death. Since Los Zetas merged with the Gulf Cartel in Mexico its affiliates used highly technical skills to develop a militaristic and sophisticated organizational structure.

The modern version of Los Zetas consists several small, semi-independent cells, scattered across Mexico and Guatemala. The Mexican Cartel’s members have infiltrated Guatemala’s police and military. Northern Guatemala’s department of Alta Verapaz is quietly occupied by Los Zetas members. In one internal security offensive five hundred soldiers were deployed to Guatemala City to assist National Police. In 2012 Los Zetas made an attempt to take over the entire Guatemalan drugs trade by co-opting or killing local traffickers.

The February 2017 US Court document revealed between November 2011 and January 2012 a Los Zetas member paid the former Vice-President US$250,000, as part of their special agreement. In 2015 Guatemala’s Vice-President resigned. She was subsequently charged with corruption, after pocketing millions of dollars from “La Linea,” a domestic customs kick-back scheme. In 2016 America indicted the former Vice-President, via Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry, with conspiring between 2010 and 2015 to import cocaine to the USA.

The ex-senior politician was also linked to one of Central America’s “most active money launderers.” In 2012 the Guatemalan businesswoman combined her network with the former Vice-President, to facilitate the ranking trafficker called “El Oso” or The Bear. As a Los Caraduras representative The Bear purchased cocaine from Colombia, reselling the drug for US$12,000 per kilo to Los Zetas’ Guatemalan Alta Verapaz outpost.

The businesswoman’s name eventually featured on the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wanted list, for supplying cocaine and cleaning Los Zetas drug profits. After her 2014 surrender South America’s most active money launderer negotiated a special DEA deal to become a US federal Confidential Informant (CI). Among aided DEA stings were Guatemala’s former Vice-President and the ex-Minister of the Interior.

 

 

 

Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.

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