Detained former mayor Edgar Francisco Ruiz Paredes

Authorities in Guatemala have arrested a former mayor and several local officials on corruption charges, a possible foreshadowing of what's to come in 2016 as prosecutors set their sights on municipal-level fraud networks.

Edgar Francisco Ruiz Paredes, mayor of the popular tourist city Antigua, Guatemala up until last week, was arrested on January 21 for alleged illicit association, extortion, and embezzlement, reported the Associated Press. Ten other local officials and citizens were also detained. 

Prosecutors say the suspects were part of a corruption network that awarded government contracts to family members of another former mayor, Adolfo Vivar Marroquín, who was arrested on similar charges in 2012 and is currently in prison. 

The Public Ministry (as the Attorney General's Office is known in Guatemala) and the United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG) led the investigation into the corruption network, reported La Hora.

The day before the arrests, the Public Ministry and CICIG stated their respective investigative teams would work together to target corruption at the municipal level in 2016. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Ruiz may just be the first of many corrupt local officials to come under judicial scrutiny in 2016 as the Public Ministry and CICIG focus their attention on municipal corruption following a historic year for Guatemala's anti-impunity crusaders in 2015. The Public Ministry and CICIG worked together to uncover several corruption rings operating at the national level last year, including one within the customs office allegedly run by former President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti. Both of the disgraced political figures are now in prison awaiting trial. 

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

The focus on municipal corruption could pay huge dividends, as mayors in Guatemala -- and across Latin America -- have managed to create what amount to criminal fiefdoms by embezzling public funds or colluding with drug trafficking groups. With little oversight from state and national authorities, these criminal-style networks are often run for years with impunity, as is seen in the Ruiz case.

However, going after municipal corruption presents its own set of challenges for Guatemala, which has 338 municipalities. Although not all are run by corrupt mayors, it is unclear how many resources the Public Ministry and CICIG can dedicate to investigating local politicians, while also building off progress made last year at the national level. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

The power of Colombia's elites is founded upon one of the most unequal divisions of land in the world. As of the early 21st century, one percent of landowners own more than half the country's agricultural land.1  Under Spanish rule, Colombia's agriculture was organized on the hacienda...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is carried out by transnational criminal organizations, local drug trafficking groups, gangs and corrupt security forces, among other actors. Violence is the focal point for the international aid...

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Organized crime and the violence associated with it is the preeminent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean today. The region is currently home to six of the most violent countries in the world that are not at war. Four of those countries are in Central America...

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence...

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Faced with the government's failure to rein in the criminals, communities across crime-besieged Mexico have been trying for years to organize effective civic resistance. Michoacan's vigilantes express the most extreme response by society to date, but other efforts have been less belligerent. In battle-torn cities along the...

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

If Uruguay's proposal to regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana is properly implemented and overcomes political and economic hurdles, it could be the most important drug regulation experiment in decades.