Guatemalan authorities, working with the United States government, captured what some are calling the country's largest drug trafficker, a former military officer turned criminal with a reputation for extreme violence.
Dozens of police on foot and in helicopter surrounded and captured Marlon Francesco Monroy Meoño, alias "El Fantasma" ("The Ghost"), and six other suspects of his group on April 30 at a residence in Antigua, a city 25 kilometers from Guatemala City known for its quaint, colonial streets and hospitable language schools. (See video below ? Soy502.com)
Monroy is accused in the Southern District of Florida of drug trafficking (although his accusation was not yet available on US Justice Department websites). US authorities expect him to be quickly extradited to face those charges, since he is not charged in Guatemala.
InSight Crime Analysis
Part of Monroy's power, it seems, stemmed from his contacts in the military, as well as his penchant for bloodletting.
According to US law enforcement officials consulted by InSight Crime who did not wish to be identified since the investigation is ongoing, Monroy is a former military officer who rose to prominence after his mortal enemy, Jairo Orellana, alias "El Pelón," was captured in May 2014.
Monroy used his contacts in the military to help him move illegal drugs from Colombia and Ecuador to the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, where his organization received, stored, then moved the drugs north to contacts in Mexico.
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On the same day Monroy was captured, elPeriódico reported that authorities had decommissioned 673 kilograms of cocaine on a go-fast boat in the Pacific, which they said was part of Monroy's operations.
Monroy was also known for his extreme violence towards both his enemies and his allies who he felt had betrayed him.
Monroy was arrested using what is called a Provisional Arrest Warrant (PAW). PAWs are usually issued in cases where the suspect is not wanted for crimes locally. In cases of high-level drug traffickers, this normally indicates there is an agreement between the two governments to not charge the person locally. This facilitates the extradition process, since legislation often requires the person face crimes locally first, before being sent to another country to face charges.
The capture of Monroy leaves another power vacuum. The most likely occupant of that vacuum is someone authorities have identified as Rony Álvarez, alias "Komander." Álvarez was Orellana's second-in-command and has retained his contacts to keep operations going in western Guatemala.