Guatemala: 21 Arrested in Cartel Money Laundering Network

Published: 05 December 2013


Guatemalan authorities have detained 21 people suspected of laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel, according to the AP.

Police and military officials arrested the suspects in a series of 35 raids throughout the country. Reuters reports that the group of suspects, led by two Guatemalans, included a Mexican national who is still at large.

Officials told reporters on Tuesday that the suspects used a fruit and vegetable company as a front to launder nearly US$46 million in 2009 and 2010. The network allegedly funneled millions of dollars to the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

"We assume the money is from a Mexican cartel, the Sinaloa cartel," a Guatemalan attorney general said, referring to Mexico's dominant Culiacán-based drug gang. According to the AP, the Sinaloa cartel is Mexico's most powerful.

InSight Crime described the arrests as "the latest sign that the country's culture of impunity is slowly eroding." InSight says that Guatemala has historically done a poor job combating laundering, as evidenced by former President Alfonso Portillo who went to trial in Guatemala and was later extradited to the United States.