HomeGuatemalaMendozas
GUATEMALA

Mendozas

GUATEMALA / LATEST UPDATE 2020-03-09 23:47:18 EN

Based in Guatemala’s northern-most province of Peten, the Mendozas mainly ran contraband before becoming one of Central America’s drug trafficking organizations (DTOs).

History

Following the death of the family’s patriarch, four brothers are said to have taken control of the family’s licit and illicit business: Walter Obdulio Mendoza Mata, Milton Oswaldo, Edwin Alfredo, and Haroldo. The family’s operations have traditionally been based in its hometown of Morales, which lies along the road running from the Honduran border to northern Guatemala. The family owned large tracts of land, and, in addition to drug trafficking, has been implicated in anti-union violence against local farm workers.

Mendozas Factbox

Founded
1980s

Membership
Family-orinted operation based in northern Guatemala

Leadership
Haroldo Mendoza Matta, who was captured in 2014

Criminal Activities
Drug trafficking, drug sales, money laundering

Guatemala Factbox

Homicide Rate

Criminal Activities

Drug transit, human trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, prostitution rings

Principal criminal groups

MS13, Barrio 18, CIACS, Lorenzanas, Mendozas, Leones

The Mendozas made their fortune from contraband and drug smuggling, and were once considered to be protected by well-placed contacts in Guatemalan political circles. Former President Alvaro Colom once remarked the Mendozas were the among the “narcos that nobody touches.” A mayor in Peten province — where the drug trafficking organization is based — reportedly received campaign donations in 2011 from the Mendozas after he shelled out nearly $2 million on a stadium for a soccer team owned by the family.

However, the Mendozas lost key territories following the incursion of Mexican criminal group the Zetas into Guatemala, and many members of the drug clan are thought to have fled the country.

Leadership

The alleged leader of the Mendozas, Haroldo Mendoza Matta, was arrested outside Guatemala City on November 20, 2014, as part of a massive security force operation that also produced the capture of nine other suspected members of the group.

Another brother, Walter Obdulio Mendoza Mata, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for money laundering in May 2019. His four children were sentenced to six years.

Geography

The Mendozas’ base of operations is in Peten, the northern-most province of Guatemala that lies along borders with Belize and Mexico.

Allies and Enemies

The Mendozas sought political alliances with powerful members of the government and strategic alliances with other DTOs in the country. This may have included a short-lived agreement that some called the “Pacto de Peten” between themselves and the Lorenzanas to split the country north from south and push out the rival Leones, who they believed were responsible for stealing much of their merchandise. According to some Guatemalan sources, they used hired guns to attack the Leones, supposedly bringing in feared Mexican group the Zetas, who in March 2008, assassinated Juancho Leon in the Zacapa province. This strategy, however, backfired, and the Zetas co-opted territory in southeastern and central Guatemala.

Prospects

Much of the Mendoza clan is thought to have left Peten, or to be regularly using Belize as a refuge. Nonetheless, they are also believed to have the best contacts in Guatemala’s government.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 23 JUL 2018

The Guatemala Interior Ministry’s withdrawal of police assigned to the CICIG, its internationally-backed anti-graft body, is a likely sign that…

GUATEMALA / 20 JAN 2012

The United States Treasury Department has designated a little-known Guatemalan woman as major criminal force in the country, as well…

GUATEMALA / 18 JUN 2019

The impunity rate in Guatemala increased last year even amid high-profile prosecutions by a heralded anti-graft body, laying clear the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…