Has Extradited Guatemala Criminal ‘Patriarch’ Turned US Informant?

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The extradited former head of Guatemala’s Lorenzana criminal organization has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges after reportedly being offered a deal by US authorities, something likely to become commonplace as more and more Guatemalan criminals are extradited to the United States.

According to the United States Department of Justice, 75 year-old Waldemar Lorenzana Lima, whose organization has been linked to transnational drug cartels from Colombia and Mexico, pleaded guilty to conspiring to import more than 450 kilos of cocaine into the United States. Between 1996 and 2009, his organization allegedly transported “massive quantities of cocaine” to US soil via El Salvador and Guatemala, using go-fast boats and airplanes.

Lorenzana’s guilty plea came just days after his lawyer told Siglo 21 that US authorities had approached the former capo with an undisclosed deal. 

Lorenzana faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a minimum of five years, reported Reuters. The date for sentencing has not yet been determined.

InSight Crime Analysis

Lorenzana, also known as the “Patriarch,” was detained in Guatemala in April 2011 and extradited to the United States in March 2014. His organization allegedly has a longstanding relationship with Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, and Lorenzana maintained ties with many of Guatemala’s premier drug traffickers. His sons Eliu and Waldemar have also been arrested for their involvement with the organization, and currently await extradition to the United States. Three other family members are wanted by authorities.

SEE ALSO: Lorenzanas Profile

Lorenzana’s guilty plea comes at a time when various other Guatemalan drug trafficking leaders are being prosecuted in the United States, among them Walther Overdick, alias “El Tigre,” and Juan Alberto Ortiz Lopez, alias “Juan Chamale.” A major drug trafficker and cocaine thief, Jairo Orellana Morales, alias “El Pelon,” is also currently awaiting possible extradition.

There has been little information available regarding the status of these cases, something that may well indicates cooperation is occurring behind the scenes. As extraditions become increasingly common in Guatemala, it is likely that the sorts of plea bargains Lorenzana likely made will become a trend. 

Cooperation agreements have long been common between the United States and extradited Colombian cartel leaders, such as the Rastrojos’ Javier Calle Serna, alias “Comba.” While the details of these deals are rarely disclosed, they commonly involve the exchange of information about drug trafficking networks in exchange for more lenient sentences, the protection of properties and assets, and the protection of family members.

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