Guatemala Police Retreat as Locals Protest Contraband Seizure

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Guatemala’s central police authority withdrew the police force based in a western border region, after local residents violently protested the seizure of contraband goods.

According to Prensa Libre, 71 police agents have pulled out of San Marcos department, a hub for the contraband trade. The National Civil Police (PNC) decided it was too dangerous to keep agents in the area after residents attacked several officers in an incident last week. The officers seized two trucks carrying contraband petroleum headed to Mexico, but were then assaulted by local residents who demanded that the fuel be returned, Prensa Libre reports.

In other cases, locals have set up roadblocks and kidnapped police offices on patrol, demanding the return of contraband goods or the release of detained contraband runners as ransom, according to elPeriodico

InSight Crime Analysis

San Marcos is an impoverished region where the local economy is based on contraband smuggling, as well as poppy production for the heroin trade. Incidents like these suggest that the traffickers have more support among locals than the police do.

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