HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Poppy Eradication Campaign Takes on Rising Cultivation
BRIEF

Guatemala Poppy Eradication Campaign Takes on Rising Cultivation

GUATEMALA / 3 FEB 2014 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Authorities in Guatemala have eradicated 65 hectares of poppy despite fierce resistance from farmers, as the country struggles to tackle record amounts of opium poppy cultivation along the border with Mexico.

Members of the Guatemalan police and army first tried to launch an eradication campaign in the department of San Marcos on January 27, but were forced back after they were attacked by farmers armed with rocks, sticks and firebombs. Four police were injured in the assault.

On January 31, the security forces returned and successfully uprooted poppy plants that authorities says were worth over $94 million, reported EFE.

The new year campaign follows on from last year’s eradication efforts, which according to the authorities, saw the destruction of 2,500 hectares of poppy– capable of producing $3.2 billion worth of heroin, according to official estimates.

InSight Crime Analysis

While accurate estimates of the amount of poppy cultivated in Guatemala have often been hard to come by, all indications are cultivation is now reaching record levels.

In the early 1990s, Guatemala was one of the region’s main poppy producer countries, reaching a peak of 2,500 hectares cultivated in 1991, according to the US State Department. However, an aerial eradication campaign during the early 90s supposedly reduced cultivation to less than 10 hectares hidden away in tiny mountainside plots.

Between 2000 and 2004, eradication efforts fell away to virtually nothing, reported elPeriodico. In the first year they began again, 489 hectares was eradicated, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), suggesting cultivation had rapidly bounced back. By 2011, the State Department was reporting that despite the eradication of 1,490 hectares of poppy, Guatemala was a net poppy producer of over 1,000 hectares.

The rise in eradication claimed by the government for 2013 is likely linked to increased efforts to tackle cultivation — including the deployment of a specialist military brigade to San Marcos. However, it is highly unlikely they are eradicating the entire crop, suggesting cultivation now exceeds the highs seen in the 1990s.

Guatemalan poppy cultivation is almost entirely focused in the province of San Marcos, which borders Mexico in the south (see map below). The region has long been the fiefdom of Guatemalan traffickers with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, principally the Ortiz Lopez cartel, which was once headed by the notorious Juan Ortiz Lopez, alias “Juan Chamale,” who was arrested in 2011.

GuatemalaSanMarcos-01

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

COCA / 6 MAY 2015

Colombia has likely reclaimed its position as the world’s principal cocaine producer, something with profound consequences on the drug trade…

INFOGRAPHICS / 2 OCT 2013

The purity of illegal drugs has increased and their price decreased over the last 20 years, according to a…

EL SALVADOR / 20 AUG 2013

Mexico's and other countries' criminal organizations have increasingly solidified their presence in Central America's Northern Triangle, taking control of large…

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…