San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Guatemala

Prison terms of up to 828 years for Guatemala drug gang members who massacred foreigners

GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemala judge handed down prison terms of up to 828 years for six drug traffickers convicted of killing a busload of foreigners in 2008 before setting the bodies on fire.

The traffickers stopped the bus, which entered Guatemala from Nicaragua to the south, because they thought it was carrying drugs.

They searched it and found none, then shot and killed all 16 people aboard — 15 Nicaraguans and one Dutch citizen — then burned the victims’ bodies on an estate owned by one of those convicted.

That man, Marvin Montiel Marín, alias “El Taquero,” was jailed for 820 years in Friday’s trial: eight years for criminal association, 12 for drug trafficking and 50 years for each of the killings.

Three other suspects got as many as 828 years as other crimes were included in the charge sheet against them, according to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, a U.N. body.

The length of the terms is largely symbolic, however, as under Guatemalan law the most time a person can spend in prison is 50 years.

During the trial Marín’s wife, Sara Cruz, drew a sentence of six years in prison for criminal association.

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