Guatemalan authorities have captured nine people accused of the murder of eight police officers last month, at least one of whom is a police agent, indicative of the severe corruption within the force.
During 34 operations carried out in the state of Huehuetenango on July 14, seven men and two women were arrested for the massacre at a police substation in Salcaja municipality, in Quetzaltenango state near the Mexican border.
One of the detained was a police agent who worked at the Salcaja station. According to BBC, two of the people arrested were police officers, although Guatemalan media reported there was just one police officer among the detainees.
The group are allegedly part of the drug trafficking organization run by Aler Samayoa, alias “Chicharra” — a key figure in a powerful group of crime families based in Huehuetenango that are believed to work with the Sinaloa cartel.
Prosecutor General Claudia Paz y Paz said a month-long investigation, which intercepted calls and analyzed security camera footage from the police station, had established that the detainees were responsible for the massacre and worked for a drug trafficking organization “linked to many homicides.”
InSight Crime Analysis
Quetzeltenango state is part of a key drug trafficking corridor from South America to Mexico, so these killings were immediately suspected to be drug-related, and possibly connected to a Mexican cartel. The Zetas seemed to be the more likely culprits than the Sinaloa Cartel, as they have had a presence in Guatemala since 2007 and are known for horrific revenge killings, some of which they have carried out in the country. However, the Sinaloa Cartel has also operated in Guatemala for several years.
The fact that one of the suspects is a police officer is indicative of the rampant corruption within the Guatemalan force. An attempted clean-up is underway, with almost 200 officers removed last year. Nevertheless, NGO International Crisis Group has noted there is a lack of funds and political backing for the project.