Guatemala Ex-Leaders Convicted, US Responds

The U.S. National Drug Control Strategy for 2023 is set to address the recent conviction of former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and his Vice President, Roxana Baldetti, on fraud and conspiracy charges. Both were sentenced to 16 years in prison for their involvement in the “La Linea” customs corruption scheme, which allowed businesses to evade import duties in exchange for bribes. The case implicated approximately 30 others, including customs officials and business people, and involved about $1 million in bribes and $2 million in lost income for the Guatemalan government.

The 2023 strategy aims to strengthen anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala, following the weakening of such initiatives after the end of the United Nations-backed anti-corruption mission CICIG in 2019. The mission had supported the dismantling of criminal networks and built capacity to handle complex corruption cases. The U.S. has criticized the decline in anti-corruption efforts within the country, with around 30 former anti-corruption officials having fled Guatemala.

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