Guatemala: From a trafficking bridge to a drug producing country?

On May 27th was found a coca plantation in Guatemala, and the authorities are concerned if the country will stop being a bridge of the cartels and will start its own production

Guatemala: From a drug trafficking bridge to a drug producing country?

74,368 coca bushes

In recent months, Guatemala's National Civil Police (PNC, by its acronym in Spanish) began intercepting anonymous calls, in which the interlocutors spoke of a possible coca plantation in Guatemalan territory. Moreover, in these calls, there was also talk of an illegal laboratory for the processing of said opioid.

Leer en español: Guatemala: ¿De puente del narcotráfico a país productor de drogas?

After an incessant work by the authorities, a coca plantation was found in the municipality of Cobán, located in the state of Alta Verapaz, on the La Libertad Ixila farm. However, when the authorities arrived at this place they were surprised by the number of coca bushes that were in the plantation. The Guatemalan authorities registered approximately 74,368 coca bushes.

Subsequently, the National Civil Police of Guatemala found a narco-lab a few meters from the coca plantation. In this laboratory were found a gallon of acid, seven cans of gasoline and three bags of Pegamix, elements that are used to produce cocaine.

After the seizure of said plantation, the PNC was surprised by this discovery. This is because it would be the first coca plantation in the country, and if there is a coca plantation, there could be more plantations in Guatemalan territory, according to the PNC in a press release.

However, international organizations such as the United Nations (UN) had already warned since March that between the forests of Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras were losing thousands of hectares by planting opioids, according to the Territories Affected by Illicit Crops report.

The drug trafficking bridge between Mexico and North America

According to the report of illicit crops of the Organization of American States (OAS), the production of the coca bush is traditionally planted in countries such as Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia. Subsequently, these coca plants are processed for the creation of cocaine. All this narcotics production is demanded by the Mexican drug cartels such as the Cartel de Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Cartel, and the Gulf Cartel.

In this cyclical business, the role of Guatemala was merely a bridge for the passage of drugs to the United States, in addition to receiving thousands of grams of cocaine for domestic consumption. Both domestic consumption and drug trafficking routes have helped the proliferation of crime, homicide, gangs and drug traffickers throughout Guatemalan territory.

In 2017 more than 17 police officers were murdered in Guatemala, according to El Periódico of Guatemala. However, this figure seems "encouraging" given that years ago extrajudicial executions were daily bread, to the point of riddling police officers at the hands of criminal gangs and gangs. According to Univisión, in 2013, eight police officers were shot near the city of Guatemala.

With this new discovery, everything seems to point to the fact that drug trafficking in the Guatemalan country will only increase. This is because now the country is not only going to be a bridge of drug trafficking, but it will also going to produce the opioid in the same territory.

With this information, several questions are opened: Who is responsible for this coca plantation? Are the Mexican cartels behind the plantation? Will the same Guatemalan gangs be cultivating these coca fields?

Latin American Post | Miguel Díaz

Translated from "Guatelama: ¿De puente del narcotráfico a país productor de drogas?

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