HomeGuatemalaJuan Alberto Ortiz Lopez, alias "Juan Chamale"
GUATEMALA

Juan Alberto Ortiz Lopez, alias "Juan Chamale"

GUATEMALA PERSONALITIES / LATEST UPDATE 2017-03-09 22:42:30 EN

Until his arrest in March 2011, Juan Alberto Ortiz Lopez, alias "Juan Chamale," was ranked by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Guatemala's number one drug trafficker. He was known as Guatemala's "Heroin King" and served as a key contact for the Sinaloa Cartel.

History

Ortiz was heavily involved in cocaine trafficking, and was accused by US authorities of helping to move over 40 tons of cocaine through Central America en route to the United States. Ortiz worked with local fishermen to smuggle cocaine in small fishing boats and may have also commissioned semi-submersibles to transport the drug.

Juan Chamale Factbox

DOB: Unknown

Group: Ran drug transport network

Criminal Activities: Drug trafficking, opium poppy cultivation

Status: Extradited May 2014

Area of Operation: San Marcos province, Guatemala

Ortiz also controlled a major opium poppy producing area, the province of San Marcos, where he was a popular local figure. When Ortiz was arrested in 2011, locals protested to demand his release. He owned at least ten estates in his area of operations and provided numerous jobs, in addition to cultivating local support by throwing parties and sponsoring beauty contests.

Criminal Activities

Ortiz was involved in cocaine trafficking and poppy cultivation for heroin production.

Geography

Ortiz based his criminal network in the San Marcos province, one of the most important regions in Guatemala given its proximity to the highlands, Mexico and to the Pacific coast, where most of the drugs coming from South America land. His group's control of various points along the coast gave it a strategic advantage over competitors.

Allies and Enemies

Ortiz exerted influence over local politicians and police in the region, and relied on a powerful local support network to conduct his business. He is thought to have worked out a deal that made him the Sinaloa Cartel's top transporter, helping the Mexican group move drugs that arrived via Pacific routes. 

Prospects

Ortiz was arrested in March 2011 in the city of Quetzaltenango, near the Mexican border. In February 2012, a Guatemalan court ruled that Ortiz could be extradited to the United States to face drug trafficking charges. He was extradited in May 2014.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCAINE / 8 JUL 2021

A US investigation has shed light on the alleged participation of Guatemalan soldiers in a cocaine smuggling network linked to…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…