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Special Series: The Zetas in Guatemala

The Zetas, Mexico’s most feared and violent criminal organization, have moved operations to Guatemala, penetrating local police forces and the military. They have made alliances with locals that permit them to launder their proceeds through agribusiness and public works contracts. They have also introduced a new way of operating. Beyond controlling the distribution chains and infrastructure needed to run the day-to-day operations, the Zetas are focused on controlling territory. In this they are the experts, creating a ruthless and intimidating force that is willing to take the fight to a new, often macabre level.

Part I: The Incursion

Part I: The Incursion

On Tuesday, May 12, 2011, some 10 SUVs and pickups with tinted windows pulled up to a local gasoline station in Coban, the capital of Alta Verapaz state, north Guatemala....

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Part II: The Modus Operandi

Part II: The Modus Operandi

It is not a fancy video production. It begins, “Horse Races…Coban, Guatemala…September 15, 2010.” Two men -- one wearing a jockey’s uniform, the other in street clothes -- ready their...

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Part III: A Guatemalan Response?

Part III: A Guatemalan Response?

On December 18, 2010, a local soccer league in Coban held its championship match. One team featured Alta Verapaz’s governor at the time, Jose Adrian Lopez. The other team featured...

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Zetas in Guatemala Map

Zetas in Guatemala :: Explanation text