A technician destroys precursors in Guatemala

Guatemala's authorities arrested an alleged member of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel on May 20, the latest supposed accomplice from the Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-led crime syndicate to fall.

Proceso reports that Jose Samuel Escobar, 20, was carrying a gun, assault rifle cartridges, jewelry, and more than $128,000 when he was apprehended. According to Guatemala's Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez, Escobar's group was threatening to kill police officers if they did not call off the operation, a telling sign, he said, that the members are aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel.

Lopez said Monday's arrest was part of a larger operation led by the country's security forces. The mission was to find an armed group who were hiding in a neighborhood located in the municipality of Malacatan, near the Mexican border.

InSight Crime Analysis

Notably, Escobar's arrest took place in the San Marcos department of Guatemala, near the country's Pacific coast, one of the smuggling routes being fought over by the warring drug gangs, and currently controlled by the Sinaloans.

However, authorities in Guatemala have been known to push questionable information about drug organizations in the past, most notably the false report that Guzman died in the jungles of Peten during a shootout earlier this year. There has also been at least one other case in which Guatemalan authorities arrested an alleged Sinaloa Cartel contact, only to see the detainee go free after the courts ruled there was insufficient evidence to hold him.

Guatemala is reportedly witness to persistent fighting between the Sinaloa Cartel and rival organization the Zetas. The two groups have been battling over three lucrative smuggling routes that cross through Guatemala, two of which, according to President Otto Perez, are controlled by the Zetas

The Zetas have operated in Guatemala since 2007. The Sinaloa Cartel has been in the country much longer, and has recently shifted some of its production of methamphetamine to the country. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...