HomeNewsAnalysisGuatemala Declares State of Siege in Alta Verapaz

Guatemala Declares State of Siege in Alta Verapaz


Guatemala's government declared a state of siege in the embattled state of Alta Verapaz on Sunday, an area just north of capital city Guatemala that has been overrun with large criminal gangs and violence.

The declaration will mean more army and police presence in a state that has but 343 police, only 60 percent of which are on duty at any one time. The measure also gives authorities the power to detain and hold suspects without immediately charging them, and includes curfews and random searches of homes and vehicles. 

The declaration comes as the government seeks to get a handle on increasingly powerful drug trafficking gangs operating in the country. The Mexican syndicate, the Zetas, and the Sinaloa Cartel, operate in Guatemala. The Zetas ambushed and killed the head of a powerful local syndicate in 2008. The Sinaloa Cartel associates control swaths of territory on the Guatemalan-Mexican border.

However, the extent of the Mexicans' presence is disputed. Foreign news agencies taken for given that the Guatemalan government's decision is based on the control of the Zetas in Alta Verapaz. But local newspapers do not mention a criminal gang's name and emphasize the presence of local criminal structures in their coverage. And Mexican intelligence sources tell InSight that the Zetas' presence is overblown in the region.

Caravans of armed men roam freely in Coban, a recent research trip to Coban by InSight Crime revealed. Local sources told InSight that these include both Mexican and local criminal syndicates who work together to protect the drugs moving through the region from other criminal gangs.

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.


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.


Related Content


The recent killing of eight people in El Salvador was the kind of massacre that is a trademark of the…


In an interview with El Espectador, Foreign Minister Luis Fernando Carrera explained Guatemala's plan to facilitate a "historic dialogue" for…

MEXICO / 11 MAY 2011

The Mexican drug gang known as the Zetas, who stand accused of beating scores of people to death…

About InSight Crime


Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…


Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…


Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…


Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.


Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…