HomeNewsBriefSea Trafficking Operation Busted Off Guatemala
BRIEF

Sea Trafficking Operation Busted Off Guatemala

ECUADOR / 14 NOV 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

An investigation into a maritime drug trafficking operation revealed how the alleged criminals used a series of boat transfers to move cocaine from Ecuador to Guatemala, highlighting the challenges facing sea drug interdiction efforts in the region.

The investigation that followed the October arrest of four alleged drug traffickers -- two Ecuadorians, one Guatemalan and one Colombian -- revealed that the drug-smuggling boat had set off from the north coast of Ecuador with the Ecuadorians and Colombian on board, reported El Nuevo Herald

They met the Guatemalan at a pre-arranged point off that country's coast, where they boarded his boat and navigated to another destination 150 miles away. When they reached that location, they received instructions to move another 500 miles, where another vessel gave them cocaine packages, extra fuel, and communications equipment.

On the way back to Guatemala, a US surveillance plane patrolling the waters between El Salvador and Guatemala detected the boat, and a Coast Guard helicopter forced it to stop.

The Coast Guard arrested the four men, and later found 700 kilos of cocaine that had been thrown overboard. The accused traffickers are currently in a Miami prison awaiting trial. 

El Nuevo Herald reported on a similar case, in which alleged traffickers set off from the same area of Ecuador, and met another vessel coming from near the Guatemalan-Mexican border.

InSight Crime Analysis

The use of several boats at various points off the Central American coast to coordinate the cocaine shipment -- most likely bound for the United States -- demonstrates the difficulty of monitoring sea routes in the region. Video from the news agency Fusion of a US Navy ship patrolling off Colombia shows how multinational anti-drug operations involving advanced technology are used to track and stop maritime drug traffickers.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profile

Monitoring sea drug operations is further complicated by cutbacks earlier this year to US Coast Guard interdiction efforts, despite evidence suggesting that drug trafficking groups are increasingly relying on both Pacific and Caribbean sea lanes to move drugs. If states cut the resources to sea interdiction, criminal groups will likely continue to exploit these routes to traffic drugs to the United States. The situation can be futher complicated by the use of semi-submersibles or submarines.

US anti-narcotics officials are struggling to close not only sea lanes, but also air trafficking routes along both coasts. According to one Coast Guard official, just one third of drug-smuggling boats or aircraft monitored by the United States on the Pacific and Caribbean seas were detained in 2013.

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

CIACS / 2 JUN 2017

In our June 1 Facebook Live, co-directors Steven Dudley and Jeremy McDermott spoke about InSight Crime’s special investigation…

ELITES AND CRIME / 12 MAY 2017

A former mayoral candidate turned criminal leader in Guatemala has escaped from one of the country's detention centers, further…

GUATEMALA / 28 MAR 2013

Just the Facts analyzes statements from the new SouthCom commander on the sequestration budget cuts and their impact on drug…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…