27 Arrested in Guatemala for money laundering

Guatemala City, Jan 31 (EFE).- Guatemalan police have arrested 27 of 32 suspected members of an international money laundering ring that handled more than $20 million in the last year, the country's interior minister said Friday.

"Up to now we have 27, but the operations will continue," Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told the media.

The organization may also have been involved in human trafficking, he said.

Those apprehended Friday include reputed ringleader Hector Rene Carrera and six women, police spokesman Pablo Castillo said.

The ring laundered money on behalf of Colombian drug traffickers, funneling funds to accounts and entities in Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica, Panama and Asian countries, Guatemalan prosecutors said.

The investigation leading to Friday's arrests began in November, after authorities intercepted one of the suspects as he was transporting $1.32 million in cash in his vehicle, police said.

Accused ringleader Carrera denied any involvement with drug traffickers, describing himself as a farmer.

"Me, what I grow are tomatoes," he told a radio station. "Maybe they stole my identity."