Illegal drug trade in Guatemala

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The illegal drug trade in Guatemala includes trans-shipment of cocaine to the United States. According to some reports, Mexican drug cartels such as Sinaloa have also established poppy growing operations there. There is a reported relationship between the Mexican Los Zetas cartel and the Guatemalan Kaibiles military force.


Guatemala connects Honduras and Mexico along common drug routes between Central America and the United States. Its long, unpatrolled coastline and sparse jungles make it a popular landing point for boats and planes carrying drugs from South America, while its borders are understaffed and ill-equipped to fully exert customs controls.[1]

"According to a December 2008 report from the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center, less than 1 percent of the estimated 600 to 700 tons of cocaine that departed South America for the United States in 2007 transited Central America. The rest, for the most part, passed through the Caribbean Sea or Pacific Ocean en route to Mexico. Since then, land-based shipment of cocaine through Central America appears to have ballooned. Earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen McFarland estimated in an interview with a Guatemalan newspaper that cocaine now passes through that country at a rate of approximately 300 to 400 tons per year."[2]

According to the International Crisis Group, “the presence of Mexican cartels fighting on Guatemalan territory demonstrated how important and competitive the eastern region had become for the transnational cocaine trade”.[1]

A 2009 STRATFOR report corroborates: "Mexican drug traffickers appear to operate much more extensively than in any other Central American country; this may be due, at least in part, to the relationship between Los Zetas and the Guatemalan Kaibiles. Beyond the apparently more-established Zeta smuggling operations there, several recent drug seizures — including an enormous 1,800-acre poppy plantation attributed to the Sinaloa cartel — make it clear that other Mexican drug-trafficking organizations are currently active inside Guatemala."[2]

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  1. ^ a b International Crisis Group. "Corridor of Violence: The Guatemala-Honduras Border". 4 June 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b Stratfor, 26 March 2009, Central America: An Emerging Role in the Drug Trade