‘Guatemala Bus Companies Sell Intelligence to Extortion Rings’

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According to the organized crime investigative unit of Guatemala’s Attorney General Office, bus transport employees are known to sell personal information about rival company staff to prison gangs, in order to run extortion schemes.

The investigative unit has asked transit companies in Guatemala to send the office a list of all their employees, in order to follow up on these allegations, reports Prensa Libre.

Staff from some bus companies have reportedly sold information about their competitors to prison gangs, who then use the intelligence to carry out more realistic-sounding and threatening extortion demands against the rival bus company. If the frightened bus company cuts down on some of its routes, this would then allow their competitors to move in and pick up the extra profits.

Investigators reportedly say that many bus company owners have no idea that much of the personal information used to strengthen these extortion threats was collected by the staff of their business rivals.

InSight Crime Analysis

Bus extortion is widespread in Guatemala, is frequently run from inside prisons, and often leads to violence. Two transport employees were gunned down in Guatemala City just last week.

These allegations by the Attorney General Office’s organized crime unit suggests that in investigating how extortion of the transit system works, it is not as straightforward as pointing the finger at prison-based gangs. Such extortion schemes live and die by the quality of the intelligence behind them. And it makes sense that insiders who are close to the transport sector — including rival bus company employees — are well positioned to sell their information to interested parties.

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