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Cops Nab Alleged Mastermind in Guatemalan Murders

January 11, 2008

GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan security forces Jan. 3 arrested a man hitherto known only as “Montaña 3,” a supposed mastermind of last February’s murder of three Salvadoran lawmakers and their driver.

Prosecutor Alvaro Matus said that the arrest was made in La Laguna, a village near the border with El Salvador.

The suspect, whose real name is Carlos Gutierrez, was arrested inside a residence by a group of National Civil Police, or PNC, officers.

“He will be transferred in the coming hours to the capital so he can make a statement before the court that is handling the case,”Matus said.

According to investigators, Gutierrez is believed to be the person who on the day of the murders exchanged close to 100 phone calls with Guatemalan lawmaker Manuel Castillo and other people later arrested in connection with the crimes.

A day before his arrest, a court set aside Castillo’s parliamentary immunity so prosecutors could charge him in the case.

The PNC has issued an arrest warrant for Castillo, but a source in the prosecutor’s office said that the lawmaker may have fled because authorities have “lost track of him.”

Gutierrez and Castillo are believed to be the men who coordinated the kidnapping and subsequent killing of the three Salvadoran deputies to the Central American Parliament and their driver. The charred bodies of legislators Eduardo D’Aubuisson, William Pichinte and Jose Ramon Gonzalez, as well as police officer Gerardo Ramírez, were found Feb. 19, 2007, on a remote section of the highway that links the Guatemalan capital to El Salvador (NT, Feb. 23, 2007).

Prosecutors formed their hypothesis by analyzing telephone calls made between the people linked to the crime. They found that Castillo was in constant contact with Gutierrez and Carlos Amilcar Orellana, one of those accused of carrying out the killings.

Orellana was arrested in May along with four others, including a woman, for his supposed role in the slayings. The detainees, according to the investigation, belonged to a band of drug traffickers that operated in the town of Jalpatagua, near the border with El Salvador.

PNC officers Luis Arturo Herrera Lopez, Jose Adolfo Gutierrez, Marvin Langen Escobar Mendez and Jose Korki López Arreaga were arrested on Feb. 22, 2007, for carrying out the murders, but they were killed behind bars three days later (NT, March 2, 2007).

 

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