The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
The extradited former head of Guatemala's Lorenzana criminal organization has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges after reportedly being offered a deal by US authorities, something likely to become commonplace as more and more Guatemalan criminals are extradited to the United States.
At least 700 people have been killed in Guatemala so far this year for failing to pay extortion fees, according to a local watchdog group, a number that underscores the enormous scale and impact of the crime.
If the conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt on genocide charges represented the opportunity for Guatemala's justice system to right its historical wrongs, the annulment of the sentence and the virtual removal of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz was a harsh call to return to the status quo. Judges living in fear, hidden negotiations and elite networks ensure "justice" remains in line with corrupt interests.
A news report has shed light on how 1,449 grenades were stolen from a Guatemala military cache in 2013 and sold to drug trafficking organizations, a case that -- as is common in countries in the region -- points right back to the armed forces themselves.
In a decision that most local media ignored, a judge prohibited former Guatemala Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz from leaving the country, and froze her bank accounts, in what appears to be a backlash against the former prosecutor for bringing judicial cases against the country's elites.
A recent report indicates that Guatemala's prisons are at 280 percent over capacity, a problem exacerbated by poor management, which is feeding growing criminality within the penitentiary system, and effectively handing inmates control over many installations.
In a move that was long expected, the Supreme Court in Guatemala has officially removed the former head of a children's court who was accused of facilitating illegal adoptions. The judge's case highlights the critical role of corrupt officials in the networks behind a criminal trade that once thrived in the Central American country, and that some have suggested may be on the uptick again.
Guatemala, Brazil and Bolivia are in the process of obtaining advanced radar technology for aerial interdiction, a strategy that has proven effective at combating drug flights in the region, forcing traffickers in Colombia to develop submarine technology.
The presidents of Guatemala and Honduras have used the Central American child migrant crisis to call for regional security investment from the United States along the lines of "Plan Colombia," but as yet there have been few signs of US interest in such a plan.
Authorities in Guatemala have highlighted the range of tactics used by criminals to extort money from businesses, a crime that has become so devastating that locals in one city have organized to put a stop to it.