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

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...