Guatemala sends dozens of drug traffickers to prison

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 28, 2012 1:29 AM
Guatemala sends dozens of drug traffickers to prison

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A Guatemalan court sentenced 36 alleged members of a powerful Mexican drug cartel to prison on Wednesday for various crimes, including dismembering a state prosecutor who was investigating the gang.

Judges determined that the three dozen gang members, including one woman, were responsible for at least three murders in the northern region of Peten last year.

The court also handed out prison sentences from two to 158 years for crimes ranging from drug possession, conspiracy, trafficking arms and murder.

Seven of those arrested were found responsible for kidnapping and decapitating prosecutor Allan Stowlinsky in Coban, north of the capital, leaving his arms and legs in bags in front of his office and his head in a central market.

Prosecutors said the attorney general's office is investigating 10 of the 36 suspects for their participation in the massacre of 27 farm workers in Peten in May of 2011 in a dispute with the farm's owner for control of cocaine trafficking routes.

Guatemala has been struggling to contain drug cartels that have spread their operations into Central America to smuggle South American cocaine to the United States.

The government has declared two ‘states of siege' in Coban and Peten since 2010, giving security forces expanded powers to arrest and interrogate suspects while limiting civil rights.

(Reporting By Mike McDonald; editing by Christopher Wilson)