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US Treasury Targets Guatemala's Lorenzana Crime Family

Waldemar Lorenzana Waldemar Lorenzana

The US Treasury has placed sanctions on two members of Guatemala's Lorenzanas gang, a group that in recent years has suffered several heavy blows, including the arrest of its patriarch, Waldemar Lorenzana.

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On November 14, the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Ovaldino Lorenzana Cordon and Marta Julia Lorenzana Cordon. Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the two Lorenzana family members are now considered Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs) and US citizens are prohibited from conducting business with them.

OFAC also placed sanctions on eight of the family's "legitimate" businesses in Guatemala.

InSight Crime Analysis

After years of relative immunity from Guatemalan law enforcement, the Lorenzanas have taken some significant hits in recent times. The family head, Waldemar Lorenzana, alias "The Patriarch," was captured in April 2011 by Guatemalan police, with assistance from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Along with one of his sons, Elio Lorenzana who was arrested in November last year, Waldemar Lorenzana is currently awaiting extradition to the United States, where he is accused of serving as an intermediary between Colombian gangs and Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.

In addition, the Lorenzanas, along with Guatemala's other crime families, the Leones and the Mendozas, have been weakened by the Zetas' incursion into their traditional stronghold in the western part of the country.

[Read InSight Crime's special on the Zetas in Guatemala].

Although the family's power has deteriorated, they do still maintain a modicum of influence. The arrest of a Sinaloa Cartel operative in Guatemala in June this year is evidence of this. The suspect was accused of working actively with the Lorenzanas.

The clan also still has ties to other powerful organized crime families and groups in Guatemala. One of the targets for the new US sanctions, Waldemar Lorenzana's daughter, Marta Lorenzana, was married to Juancho Leon, who was the leader of the Leones before he was killed along with 10 other members of the clan by the Zetas in 2008. Following her husband's death, Marta Lorenzana had a child with Jairo Orellana, alias "El Pelon," a Zetas local boss in charge of Zacapa, a state which was traditionally the Lorenzanas' domain.

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