HomeNewsAnalysisGuatemalan Drug Lord, Lover of Horses, Beloved by Fishermen
ANALYSIS

Guatemalan Drug Lord, Lover of Horses, Beloved by Fishermen

GUATEMALA / 4 MAY 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Guatemala's top drug lord, Juan Alberto Ortiz Lopez, alias "Juan Chamale," is accused of smuggling over 3,000 kilos of cocaine in small fishing boats in 2009, according to a feature by elPeriodico.

Ortiz, who was arrested March 30 in an operation supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), worked with local fishermen in smuggling drugs north to Mexico, according to a U.S. extradition order issued in March, reports the newspaper.

Alongside his partner, Mauro Salomon Ramirez Barrios, who was arrested in October 2010, Ortiz may have also ordered the fabrication of semi-submersibles for transporting cocaine, the extradition order reportedly says.

Ortiz's ties to the community may help explain some of the apparent outbreaks of popular support that followed his arrest. ElPeriodico's piece quotes one alleged former employee, who says, "I support him, because he always paid attention to me and my family. It doesn't matter to me if they accuse him of drug trafficking, I'll still stand by him during the good and the bad."

ElPeriodico also printed excerpts from a 2009 calendar released by Ortiz, featuring the alleged drug lord posing alongside some of his high-breed Spanish racehorses.

Ortiz may have spent between $10,000 to $20,000 per horse, according to the newspaper.

But besides his racehorse collection, Ortiz also invested his fortune (worth an estimated 100 million quetzals, or about $12.3 million) in land estates, in the northern departments of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango and Retalhuleu.

He also owned hotels, buses, a cable company, and invested money into local churches and beauty contests in San Marcos. The Guatemalan government must now begin the process of seizing some of these assets -- likely to be a long, drawn-out process.

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

GUATEMALA / 16 JUL 2013

Guatemalan authorities have captured nine people accused of the murder of eight police officers last month, at least one…

ELITES AND CRIME / 30 JAN 2017

Authorities in Guatemala have arrested a former vice-minister of the interior and police director on corruption charges, demonstrating how officials…

ELITES AND CRIME / 13 NOV 2017

A new report details how defense attorneys in Guatemala are capitalizing on the slow pace of judicial proceedings to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.