November 13, 2019

DOJ discloses details about two money laundering prosecutions related to drug trafficking

On November 12, 2019, the US Department of Justice released information about two money laundering cases involving Guatemalan citizens.  In the first case, Manuel Antonio Baldizon Mendez, a former candidate for the presidency of Guatemala, pleaded guilty in October 2019 to money laundering, and was sentenced to 50 months in prison.  Until now, the documents were under seal.  According to the information, between 2007 and 2018, Baldizon accepted campaign contributions knowing that they were the proceeds of narcotics trafficking and were made by drug traffickers.  The evidence also showed that Baldizon purchased property in Florida and engaged in other transactions to conceal the source of the contributions.

The second case involved the arrest of Alvaro Estuardo Cobar Bustamante on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  According to the criminal complaint and indictment, Cobar served as director of a bank in Guatemala; a narcotics trafficker who became a cooperating witness conducted multiple transactions with Cobar whereby Cobar clandestinely converted to local currency or bank checks hundreds of thousands of dollars of profits  from narcotics trafficking.  In other transactions, Cobar is alleged to have moved drug money from Guatemala to countries in South America, with full knowledge of the source of the money, while earning 17% of the total value of these transactions.

In a press release detailing the arrest and guilty plea, the Department of Justice emphasized the cooperation between US and foreign law enforcement partners, working together to disrupt enterprises engaged in corruption and narcotics trafficking.

DOJ press release | Criminal Complaint (Cobar) | Criminal Information (Baldizon) | Plea Agreement (Baldizon)