A group of armed men murdered eight police and abducted one more in a key drug trafficking region in western Guatemala, in what is rumored to have been a revenge attack carried out by organized crime.
Investigators say at least 15 men travelling in three vehicles launched an assault against a police substation in the municipality of Salcaja, Quetzaltenango. The men, who were reportedly armed with AK-47s, executed the police officers while they were lying on the ground, reported Prensa Libre.
The group then kidnapped the station’s deputy inspector, who has not been heard of since. Police later found a radio belonging to the missing official on a road heading west and believe they may have taken him to the Mexican border at La Mesilla.
The motivation for the attack remains unclear, although authorities have suggested it may have been payback for the seizure of over a ton of cocaine earlier this month. Two of the executed officers had played a role in that operation. It is also possible the attack was linked to the detention of an alleged bodyguard who worked for a local drug trafficker in San Marcos province.
InSight Crime Analysis
The modus operandi of the attackers — and the fact that the municipality of Salcaja lies along a key drug trafficking corridor heading towards the Mexican border — suggest the massacre is almost certainly linked to drug traffickers.
If the armed group did indeed flee with their hostage towards the Mexican border, this would imply the involvement of Mexican drug traffickers, most likely linked to the Zetas, who are believed to operate in the region and do not shy away from such spectacularly bloody operations.
However, if the rumor that the attack is linked to a San Marcos trafficker proves true, then the organization behind the assault is more likely to be homegrown. San Marcos has proven to be one of the few areas of Guatemala the Zetas have struggled to penetrate. Independent traffickers who work with the Zetas’ rivals, the Sinaloa Cartel, are believed to control the drug trade in the province.