HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Prisoner Details Operations of Extortion Ring
BRIEF

Guatemala Prisoner Details Operations of Extortion Ring

EXTORTION / 14 AUG 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

A prisoner in Guatemala has testified in court about his participation in an extortion ring run from inside the prison via cell phone, providing a glimpse into a common phenomenon in Latin American prisons.

The prisoner, who is incarcerated in the Infiernito maximum security prison in Escuintla, to the southwest of Guatemala City, said he joined an extortion network run by a fellow prisoner serving a sentence for leading a kidnapping gang, reported Prensa Libre.

The prisoner, whose name was kept confidential, said he joined the operation after was told he had to pay a sum of about $1,270 to avoid problems, and that if he did not have the money, there was another way for him to get it. He said he was given a list of 500 names per week, but "we only called 10, and from those we got two who turned over the money."

The network, made up of 21 prisoners, made phone calls to the exterior, not just within Guatemala but also in neighboring El Salvador, where the prisoner said he once got a victim to pay a $12,000 extortion fee. According to the prisoner, he made over $6,000 even in a "bad week."

Members on the outside were responsible for collecting the money and putting it into bank accounts set up by other collaborators. The prisoner said the gang did not order hits on those who refused to pay; however, prosecutors are investigating a series of crimes committed outside the prison that may be linked to the gang.

InSight Crime Analysis

Extortion is a principal source of income for gangs throughout the Northern Triangle countries -- Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador --, where members of the public transport sector are frequently targeted, as well as small businesses and neighborhood residents.

In all of these countries, extortion run by imprisoned gang members has been reported to take place, with nearly 50 percent of extortions in Tegucigalpa, Honduras thought to originate from one prison. In March 2012, Guatemalan authorities began investigating an extortion ring run from the Infiernito prison that demanded up to $500,000 from Salvadoran businesses.

Gang members in Infiernito made an apparent show of their power in July 2012, when a new prison director was murdered after implementing a series of disciplinary reforms. President Otto Perez said jailed gang members were to blame.

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

PRISONS / 20 SEP 2013

A prominent NGO in Venezuela has strongly criticized the prison ministry's failure to address chaos in the penitentiary system after…

EL SALVADOR / 21 SEP 2016

With the United States increasingly clamping down on its southern border and high numbers of Central American refugees continuing to…

CIACS / 22 JUL 2016

On July 18, the day former Army Capt. Byron Lima -- Guatemala’s one-time “king” of the prison system -- was…

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.