HomeNewsBriefGuatemala’s First Coca Farm Signals Expansion of CentAm ‘Experiments’
BRIEF

Guatemala’s First Coca Farm Signals Expansion of CentAm ‘Experiments’

COCA / 29 MAY 2018 BY VICTORIA DITTMAR EN

The first-of-its-kind discovery of a coca farm in Guatemala may be a sign that drug trafficking groups looking to cut risks and transport costs could be expanding experiments growing drug crops in Central America, a region that has traditionally been used to transit rather than produce drugs.

On May 26, Guatemala’s National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil de Guatemala – PNC) announced the discovery and destruction of almost one hectare of coca that had been sown between coffee plants, calling it the first-ever evidence of cocaine production in the country.

The crops were found in a mountainous region six hours by foot from the central city of Cobán, which is the capital of the department of Alta Verapaz.

A small laboratory was also found near the coca farm. It contained materials commonly used for turning coca leaves into cocaine base, such as gasoline, cement and acid.

InSight Crime Analysis

The discovery of coca farms in Central America seems to be growing more frequent. In Honduras, for example, authorities recently found a 14-hectare field of coca, and a year before that they found another 8-hectare farm.

Honduran authorities explained the phenomenon as an “experiment” in which Colombian criminal groups could be testing the conditions of the country to begin cultivating and processing coca leaves closer to the United States to reduce the risk and subsequent costs of seizure.

It is possible that the same is happening in Guatemala, above all because the farm and laboratory do not seem to have been sophisticated enough for large-scale production. Furthermore, they were located in an area with the perfect conditions for testing because it had already been controlled by organized crime in the past and had little government presence.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

“What’s interesting [about this news] is the location where the farm was found,” Walter Menchú, an analyst with the Guatemalan Center for National Economic Research (Centro de Investigaciones Económicas Nacionales de Guatemala – CIEN), told InSight Crime.

“When the Zetas moved into Guatemala in 2008, Cobán was one of their centers of operation … And Alta Verapaz is located on one of the drug trafficking corridors that passes through Guatemala,” he added.

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

EL SALVADOR / 7 SEP 2018

A number of recent operations have revealed that the MS13 has developed a financial structure that’s helped them increase their…

GUATEMALA / 9 DEC 2013

Authorities in Guatemala have arrested 17 people allegedly involved in a network that stole property by falsifying documents with the…

BOLIVIA / 8 AUG 2017

President Evo Morales of Bolivia has again defended his administration's plans to expand legal coca cultivation, a move that…

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…