How a Guatemala Drug Trafficker Operated in Honduras

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Intelligence reports obtained by the media in Honduras show how a captured drug trafficker and cocaine thief from Guatemala operated with the complicity of Honduran officials, highlighting the importance of Honduras in Central American drug operations.

According to intelligence reports accessed by El Heraldo, Honduran officials provided Jairo Orellana Morales, alias “El Pelon,” and his collaborators with falsified documents that facilitated their drug trafficking operations in the border region.

Members of Honduras’ national police also allegedly gave Orellana protection that allowed him to operate in Honduras for years.

The reports also provided insight into El Pelon’s operations in Honduras, identifying him as the author of various revenge killings in San Pedro Sula and detailing his role as a cocaine thief who set up drug deals, then murdered the suppliers and stole their shipments.

The new details of Orellana’s operations emerged shortly after authorities seized 17 properties and four businesses, and froze 22 bank accounts in San Pedro Sula and Santa Cruz de Yojoa thought to be associated with Orellana’s front men in Honduras. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Orellana, who was captured in May, operated in the Guatemala-Honduras border region from an early age. He was known for his shifting loyalties and his predilection for “tumbes” (drug robberies), which earned him the title “The King of Theft” and nearly got him killed on at least one occasion. 

For years, Orellana was associated with the Lorenzana clan, which operated principally in the Guatemalan provinces of Zacapa and Chiquimula. He had a child with the daughter of the family patriarch. He also became an important business partner of the Zetas — who maintained links with the Lorenzanas — after they began operating in the region. However, as the Zetas’ influence declined in Guatemala, and Orellana’s relationship with the Lorenzanas soured, he reportedly began selling cocaine to rival groups in Mexico, including the Sinaloa Cartel

SEE ALSO: Lorenzanas Profile

El Pelon’s operations on the Honduran side of the border are no secret. He operated particularly in the Copan province, which is home to the Valles criminal group, and likely relied on their support for his operations — although this may have changed after he reportedly stole a major cocaine shipment from the group in 2012

The latest reports help illustrate the extent of Orellana’s’ influence in Honduras, and how this network of support facilitated his operations. Honduran police are notoriously corrupt, and the border region, where there is little central state presence, is particularly vulnerable to criminal influence in politics.

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