HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Extradites Brutal Drug Trafficker to US
BRIEF

Guatemala Extradites Brutal Drug Trafficker to US

EXTRADITION / 27 JUL 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

Guatemalan authorities recently extradited drug trafficker Jairo Orellana, alias “El Pelon,” to the United States, ending a criminal career that left a bloody legacy in Guatemala. 

Security forces handed over Orellana to the DEA under heavy guard, including a helicopter escort. Prior to his capture in May 2014, Orellana earned himself the title of “The King of the ‘Tumbes'” — a reference to his tendency to steal drug shipments from criminal groups. 

Unlike most drug trafficking suspects, Orellana sought extradition to the United States to resolve his legal situation “under better security conditions,” his lawyer Mauricio Berreondo told press. Orellana has been targeted by assassins in the past and appears willing to accept US sentencing in exchange for better protection against his many enemies.  

Orellana has been linked to multiple Guatemalan, Honduran, and Mexican drug trafficking organizations and was seen as instrumental in facilitating the entrance of hyper-violent criminal group the Zetas into Guatemala around 2011. 

SEE ALSO: The Zetas in Guatemala

He is believed to have operated trafficking routes along the Guatemalan-Honduran border, likely with the complicity of Honduran officials

 

15-07-27-OrellanaMap

A breakdown of Orellana’s criminal links by local newspaper Elperiodico

InSight Crime Analysis

Orellana’s criminal career was characterized by his tendency to opportunistically form and break alliances with other criminals. He entered the drug trade at a young age, working as a gunman for Guatemalan trafficking clan the Lorenzanas.

SEE ALSO: Lorenzanas Profile

He later helped the Zetas gain a foothold in Guatemala, but then worked as a free agent, selling drugs to rival group the Sinaloa Cartel, once the Zetas’ power began to wane. 

With his extradition, other traffickers will likely take over the routes and criminals structures Orellana built during his career. His more lasting impression on Central America’s underworld will likely be introducing the Zetas’ particular brand of extreme violence. 

Rather than establishing partnerships with other criminal groups or corrupt authorities, Orellana and the Zetas frequently opted to kill off or intimidate rivals through gruesome displays of violence. Orellana’s men were linked to a 2011 massacre of 27 people in Northern Guatemala. He is also believed to have ordered the murder of a Guatemalan prosecutor — who was chopped into pieces and dumped in a town plaza — that same year. 

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profile

Orellana maintained this level of violence even after parting ways with the Zetas. He is suspected of numerous revenge killings in Honduras, according to Honduran intelligence reports, and is believed to have frequently set up and murdered his own drug suppliers. 

While Orellana’s criminal career has likely come to an end, he may continue to impact the underworld depending if he’s willing to give information on fellow criminals to US authorities. Given his penchant for opportunistic murder and betrayal, this seems likely. 

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 4 JUL 2018

The recent decision of two alternate judges in Guatemala to release 10 people implicated in an extensive customs fraud case…

MEXICO / 15 JUL 2016

As the trial of Zetas Cartel leader Marciano Millán Vázquez continued in San Antonio, Texas, witnesses took the stand to…

MEXICO / 21 OCT 2014

Criminal groups are reportedly stealing and selling parts of electrical towers in northern Mexico, in yet another example of these…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

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. …