HomeNewsBriefWas Attack on Guatemala Mayor Linked to Drug Trafficking?
BRIEF

Was Attack on Guatemala Mayor Linked to Drug Trafficking?

EL SALVADOR / 21 OCT 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

A mayor from a Guatemala town located along a major drug route was attacked while visiting a border town in El Salvador, raising questions about who was behind the incident and why.

On October 19, a mayor in Guatemala's Chiquimula province, Juan Antonio Vanegas Hernandez, was shot while visiting the city of Metapan in El Salvador, reported Prensa Libre. According to police, Vanegas received a bullet wound in the neck, while a man accompanying the mayor was killed in the attack, reported La Prensa Grafica.  

Chiquimula -- which borders both Honduras and El Salvador -- is an important drug hub, as shown in a map of Guatemalan drug trafficking routes published by Prensa Libre (see below), which shows a route passing through the province. The map identifies nine other drug trafficking routes, which start in either Honduras, El Salvador, or Belize and pass through Guatemala en route to Mexico.

According to elPeriodico, Vanegas is also allegedly tied to Jose Manuel Lopez Morales, alias "El Che", who is wanted for drug trafficking in Guatemala, Honduras, and the United States in connection with Honduras' Valle Valle drug clan. On September 27, Lopez Morales' wife was captured in Chiquimula in an operation involving the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

20141021 guatemala drugroutes

InSight Crime Analysis

The fact the mayor was from Chiquimula province, coupled with allegations he has drug trafficking ties, indicates the attack was likely not random. Chiquimula is a major transit point for drug and contraband smuggling, which is facilitated by the existence of hundreds of "puntos ciegos" (unguarded border crossings) along the border with Honduras. It also has a homicide rate more than double the national rate.

For years, Guatemala has struggled with the influence wielded by criminal groups in the country's government. As reported by InSight Crime, corruption in Guatemala, especially within the judicial system, has essentially turned the country into a mafia state. 

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

The same toxic mix of politics and organized crime exists in the rest of the Northern Triangle region (formed by Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). The Salvadoran city of Metapan, where the mayor was shot, also has a significant drug trafficking presence. The Texis Cartel -- which transports cocaine for Colombian and Mexican organizations -- uses the city as its primary base of operations, where it relies on the support of Salvadoran officials including Metapan's mayor, who is allegedly among the leaders of the criminal group. Meanwhile, the mayor of El Paraiso, the former operational center of the Valle Valle clan in Honduras, is accused of protecting the group and even running his own operations

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 OCT 2017

The atmosphere was light, almost jovial, as Ipala's Mayor Esduin Javier turned to the next item on the agenda. The…

BELIZE / 28 SEP 2011

This report outlines a series of actions by the U.S. government in order to face violence in Central America.

EL SALVADOR / 10 MAY 2011

El Salvador's police found 45 barrels of a precursor chemical used to produce methamphetamine, which they say was smuggled into…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.