Waldemar Lorenzana Cordón captured by Guatemalan security forces
By Dialogo October 17, 2013
Guatemalan security forces recently weakened the notorious Lorenzana criminal organization by capturing Waldemar Lorenzana Cordón, a high-ranking member of the drug trafficking group.
Anti-narcotics agents with the Public Ministry and investigators with the National Civil Police (PNC) captured Lorenzana Cordón on Sept. 17, 2013 in the department of Zacapa, officials said.
Security agents captured the alleged drug trafficker, 48, a few hours after he ran into a building in Teculután, around 9:30 a.m. Police conducted a thorough search, and found and arrested Lorenzana Cordón a few hours later in a different building in the municipality.
Guatemalan and U.S. security forces, who are cooperating in the battle against organized crime, suspect that Lorenzana Cordón has collaborated with the Sinaloa Cartel to transport thousands of tons of cocaine from Central America to Mexico and the United States. The cartel is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
In capturing Lorenzana Cordón, Guatemalan security forces honored an extradition request from the United States. Lorenzana Cordón is wanted on federal drug trafficking charges in the U.S.
Guatemalan security forces registered a significant success by capturing Lorenzana Cordón, according to Lorena Escobar, a security analyst at the Association for Research and Social Studies (ASIES), based in Guatemala.
“His arrest is a victory for authorities and a tremendous blow to the criminal group. The Lorenzana structure is weakened. It won’t be easy for them to restructure themselves in the immediate future and continue operating in cocaine trafficking,” Escobar said.
A family criminal enterprise
Guatemalan authorities suspect Lorenzana Cordón was a key figure in the Lorenzana drug trafficking organization which was run by his father, Waldemar Lorenzana Lima, who is known as “The Patriarch.” He is 73.
Guatemalan security agents captured The Patriarch in 2008. Security forces arrested him on suspicion of working with El Chapo. However, Guatemalan authorities released The Patriarch because of insufficient evidence.
Guatemalan security forces arrested The Patriarch again in April 2011 after the U.S. government filed an extradition request, which alleged that he was collaborating with El Chapo.
In July 2013, a Guatemalan appeals court denied the last of The Patriarch’s legal motions to avoid extradition. An extradition date has not been set.
The younger Lorenzanas
Lorenzana Cordón took over the family drug trafficking enterprise after his father was captured in 2011, Guatemalan authorities said.
Guatemalan security agents captured another of The Patriarch’s sons, Elio Elixander, in 2011. He is wanted in the U.S. on federal charges of drug trafficking, conspiracy, and money laundering. No date has been scheduled for his extradition to the United States.
Guatemalan security agents suspect The Patriarch’s daughter, Marta Julia, who also known as Yulissa, of having close ties with Jairo Estuardo Orellana Morales, an alleged Guatemalan drug trafficker who is known as “El Pelón.”
Security forces suspect El Pelón is collaborating with Los Zetas to traffic drugs from Guatemala to Mexico and the United States
Guatemalan security forces captured The Patriarch’s grandson, Hans Breiner Lemus Lorenzana, in June 2013 with 15 kilograms of cocaine allegedly destined for the Sinaloa Cartel. The grandson was 17 at the time. Hans is the son of Marta Julia, according to published reports.
Guatemalan security forces suspect the Lorenzana criminal organization once worked closely with convicted Guatemalan drug trafficker Otto Herrera. Colombian security forces captured Herrera in that country in 2007.
Colombia extradited Herrera to the United States, where he is now serving a 20-year prison term for charges related to drug trafficking.
The Sinaloa Cartel is not the only Mexican transnational criminal organization that the Lorenzana family has worked with. The Lorenzana organization joined forces with Los Zetas in 2008, according to the report “Transnational Organized Crime in Central America and the Caribbean” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Los Zetas now has a larger presence in Guatemala than the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the report.
Lorenzana criminal enterprises
The Lorenzana family controls drug markets in the Guatemalan municipalities of Zacapa, Chiquimula, Izabal, El Progreso, and Jalapa, according to the UNODC.
Drug traffickers sent cocaine from Colombia to El Salvador on boats, authorities said. Drug smugglers transport the cocaine from El Salvador to Guatemala in banana trucks and other vehicles.
The Lorenzana organization receives the cocaine and conspires with the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas to transport the drugs to Mexico and the United States, according to published report.
El Chapo alliance in doubt
The arrests of The Patriarch and two of his sons could threaten the partnership between the Lorenzana organization and El Chapo, according to Escobar, the security analyst.
“The alliance that the Lorenzana family forged with the Sinaloa Cartel is at risk,” Escobar said. “El Chapo may seek a new territorial partner to continue controlling the logistics routes for smuggling drugs into the United States,” Escobar said.
“The criminal operations of the Lorenzana family are placed in the blood ties that allow trust and loyalty,” Escobar said. “It will not be easy to replace (another) a third captured member of the Lorenzana family. The authorities are dismantling the group.”
The arrests of the Lorenzana family members showed that Guatemalan security forces are “ prepared to arrest criminals and bring them to justice with full respect for human rights,” the security analyst said.
The captures of The Patriarch and two of his sons demonstrate that Guatemala and the U.S. are cooperating to fight transnational organized crime, according to Escobar.
“The assistance and cooperation of the United States with the Guatemalan government have contributed to the fight against drug trafficking,” Escobar said. “Both countries have a very good relationship of cooperation, trust, and exchange of information on security to combat transnational crime.”
Following his capture, Lorenzana Cordón pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court of Justice of Guatemala (SCJ) and stated that “he only has a working relationship with ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán,” according to published reports.