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Guatemalan Judicial System Begins Process of Extraditing Alleged Drug Boss to United States

By Dialogo
October 07, 2010

On 4 October, the Guatemalan judicial system began the process of extraditing to the United States alleged Guatemalan drug boss Mauro Salomón Ramírez, who was arrested on 2 October.

On Monday, a Guatemalan court was expecting to hear an initial statement from Ramírez, who is wanted by the United States on charges of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and aiding and abetting drug trafficking.

An international arrest warrant has been pending against the alleged boss since 26 July, and there is no set time limit to the extradition proceedings.

Ramírez, whose supposed chief activity was trade, is suspected of facilitating the trafficking of cocaine to the United States through two businesses he owns in Tecún Umán, in the department of San Marcos (in western Guatemala, on the border with Mexico).

Also known under the alias of ‘León del mar’ [Sea Lion], Ramírez is considered the second most important boss in San Marcos, after Cornelio Chilel, who controls the traffic in opium poppies in the region, and the authorities affirm that he has been involved in narcotics trafficking for ten years.

The president of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom, has said that the gang led by Ramírez has been “practically dismantled,” but he has not ruled out the possibility of an internal struggle among his lieutenants who want to take control of the transit of drugs through the area.

Up to now, fifteen individuals linked to the group have been detained (including Ramírez), and the authorities have seized 2.2 million dollars and eleven vehicles of different makes and models.

The interior minister, Carlos Menocal, who said that he is not ruling out the possibility of a new outbreak of violence due to power struggles within the gang, emphasized that the authorities have succeeded in apprehending “significant individuals,” in addition to Ramírez.

Sergio Tellechea Barrios, Ramírez’s brother, was arrested Sunday and appears to have been responsible for the gang’s financial affairs; the authorities seized 1.8 million dollars from him at the time he was detained.

Ramírez was detained on 2 October, having been found hidden in a ditch dug on a rural property in San Bernardino, in the department of Suchitepéquez (in southern Guatemala), after days of searching.

Ramírez’s detention was announced by President Colom himself.

His arrest took place “without a shot being fired,” Interior Minister Menocal emphasized.

Central America has become an area of operations for gangs that ship drugs from South America to North America, leading the governments of the region to ask Washington for increased aid to combat this plague.