Guatemala presidential candidate hit with U.S. drug charges
NEW YORK, USA – A Guatemalan presidential candidate has been charged with conspiring to import cocaine to the United States in a bid to secure cartel funds for his election, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Candidate Mario Amilcar Estrada Orellana and another alleged conspirator, Juan Pablo Gonzalez Mayorga, were arrested in Miami, the department said in a statement.
"As alleged, Estrada and Gonzalez conspired to solicit Sinaloa Cartel money to finance a corrupt scheme to elect Estrada president of Guatemala," US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in the statement, referring to a powerful Mexican drug-running organization.
"In return, the two allegedly promised to assist the cartel in using Guatemalan ports and airports to export tons of cocaine into the US," said Berman.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had been investigating the alleged conspiracy since December 2018.
Both Estrada and Gonzalez "interacted with purported members and associates of the Sinaloa Cartel" who were actually DEA "confidential sources," the department said.
The two also allegedly directed the confidential sources "to hire hitmen to assassinate political rivals to ensure that Estrada was elected president of Guatemala," and allegedly agreed to provide them with weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles to carry out the killings.
In addition to the alleged cocaine importation conspiracy, Estrada and Gonzalez have also been charged with conspiring to use and possess machineguns. – Rappler.com