Guatemala’s ‘Queen of the South’ Reportedly Prepared to Testify Against ‘El Gordo’

Guatemala’s ‘Queen of the South’ Reportedly Prepared to Testify Against ‘El Gordo’

By Dialogo
November 24, 2014




A Guatemalan socialite and businesswoman who allegedly ran one of the largest drug trafficking and money laundering rings in Central America is in custody in a U.S. prison.

Marllory Chacon Rossell, 42, who has been dubbed the “Queen of the South” by the Guatemalan press, is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami. She is expected to testify against one of her former associates, Hayron Borrayo Lasmibat, also known as “El Gordo.”

In 2012 the U.S. Treasury department named the previously little-known Chacon Rossell as a “Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker” and described her as “one of the most prolific narcotics traffickers in Central America.” Based in Guatemala but also operating in Honduras and Panama, the Queen of the South’s organization allegedly supplied cocaine shipments to Mexican drug enterprises, including Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel. Security forces in France captured El Gordo in March.

“She is responsible for transshipping thousands of kilograms of cocaine per month through Guatemala, into Mexico, and on to the United States,” the U.S. Treasury Department reports. “Chacon Rossell is also believed to launder tens of millions of U.S. dollars in narcotics proceeds each month, making her the most active money launderer in Guatemala.”

A woman drug trafficking kingpin


While many drug trafficking organizations employ women at almost every level of their criminal enterprises – from low-level drug-carrying “mules” to “plaza bosses” who control narcotics sales in specific regions – it’s unusual for a woman to lead a major Latin American drug trafficking organization.

However, the Treasury Department designation clearly placed the Queen of the South at the top of her organization’s command structure.

U.S. officials also named as major drug traffickers the Queen of the South’s husband, Jorge Andres Fernandez Carbajal, a Honduran citizen responsible for providing logistical support for his wife’s organization; El Gordo; and El Gordo’s wife, Mirza Silvana Hernandez De Borrayo. Additionally, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on four companies owned or controlled by the two couples. Among them: Bingoton Millonario, a local lottery that raised funds for the Fundacion Pediatrica Guatemalteca, a longtime provider of health services to low-income children. Foundation officials were unaware that the lottery company was part of a money-laundering operation.

The Queen of the South’s daughter, Christina Stetanel Castellanos Chacon, was also designated as a major money launderer. Treasury also imposed sanctions on two dozen companies allegedly used by the Queen of the South’s organization to launder drug money, including a construction company, a hotel, an import-export company and a clothing store called Boutique Marllory.

The capture of ‘El Gordo’


In 2011, U.S. federal law enforcement officials charged the Queen of the South’s alleged associate, El Gordo, with transporting drugs to the U.S. from Honduras, Guatemala Mexico and Venezuela. After security forces captured him in France on an international warrant, law enforcement authorities handed him over to the U.S., where he is facing a trial in Miami on federal charges related to drug trafficking.

The Queen of the South is expected to testify against El Gordo when his case goes to trial.

Some Latin American news agencies, such as teleformula.com,
have reported that the Queen of the South surrendered to U.S. law enforcement authorities. Her presence in U.S. custody was not confirmed until October, when her name appeared on an inmate database on the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website. The entry did not indicate when she was taken into custody.

If the Queen of the South is in fact cooperating with U.S. authorities, she could provide extensive information not only about drug cartels but about money laundering operations in Guatemala and elsewhere. And interrupting a drug trafficking group’s flow of money is one of the keys to dismantling it.

“The fight against money laundering is vital in the fight against organized crime,” said Oscar Vázquez, the director of Citizen Action, a civil organization in Guatemala.

Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this article.



A Guatemalan socialite and businesswoman who allegedly ran one of the largest drug trafficking and money laundering rings in Central America is in custody in a U.S. prison.

Marllory Chacon Rossell, 42, who has been dubbed the “Queen of the South” by the Guatemalan press, is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami. She is expected to testify against one of her former associates, Hayron Borrayo Lasmibat, also known as “El Gordo.”

In 2012 the U.S. Treasury department named the previously little-known Chacon Rossell as a “Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker” and described her as “one of the most prolific narcotics traffickers in Central America.” Based in Guatemala but also operating in Honduras and Panama, the Queen of the South’s organization allegedly supplied cocaine shipments to Mexican drug enterprises, including Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel. Security forces in France captured El Gordo in March.

“She is responsible for transshipping thousands of kilograms of cocaine per month through Guatemala, into Mexico, and on to the United States,” the U.S. Treasury Department reports. “Chacon Rossell is also believed to launder tens of millions of U.S. dollars in narcotics proceeds each month, making her the most active money launderer in Guatemala.”

A woman drug trafficking kingpin


While many drug trafficking organizations employ women at almost every level of their criminal enterprises – from low-level drug-carrying “mules” to “plaza bosses” who control narcotics sales in specific regions – it’s unusual for a woman to lead a major Latin American drug trafficking organization.

However, the Treasury Department designation clearly placed the Queen of the South at the top of her organization’s command structure.

U.S. officials also named as major drug traffickers the Queen of the South’s husband, Jorge Andres Fernandez Carbajal, a Honduran citizen responsible for providing logistical support for his wife’s organization; El Gordo; and El Gordo’s wife, Mirza Silvana Hernandez De Borrayo. Additionally, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on four companies owned or controlled by the two couples. Among them: Bingoton Millonario, a local lottery that raised funds for the Fundacion Pediatrica Guatemalteca, a longtime provider of health services to low-income children. Foundation officials were unaware that the lottery company was part of a money-laundering operation.

The Queen of the South’s daughter, Christina Stetanel Castellanos Chacon, was also designated as a major money launderer. Treasury also imposed sanctions on two dozen companies allegedly used by the Queen of the South’s organization to launder drug money, including a construction company, a hotel, an import-export company and a clothing store called Boutique Marllory.

The capture of ‘El Gordo’


In 2011, U.S. federal law enforcement officials charged the Queen of the South’s alleged associate, El Gordo, with transporting drugs to the U.S. from Honduras, Guatemala Mexico and Venezuela. After security forces captured him in France on an international warrant, law enforcement authorities handed him over to the U.S., where he is facing a trial in Miami on federal charges related to drug trafficking.

The Queen of the South is expected to testify against El Gordo when his case goes to trial.

Some Latin American news agencies, such as teleformula.com,
have reported that the Queen of the South surrendered to U.S. law enforcement authorities. Her presence in U.S. custody was not confirmed until October, when her name appeared on an inmate database on the U.S. Bureau of Prisons website. The entry did not indicate when she was taken into custody.

If the Queen of the South is in fact cooperating with U.S. authorities, she could provide extensive information not only about drug cartels but about money laundering operations in Guatemala and elsewhere. And interrupting a drug trafficking group’s flow of money is one of the keys to dismantling it.

“The fight against money laundering is vital in the fight against organized crime,” said Oscar Vázquez, the director of Citizen Action, a civil organization in Guatemala.

Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this article.
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