HomeNewsBriefGuatemala Sees 6 Taxi Drivers Murdered in a Week
BRIEF

Guatemala Sees 6 Taxi Drivers Murdered in a Week

EXTORTION / 15 MAY 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

The murder of six taxi drivers in Guatemala in six days calls attention to the targeting of transit workers by organized crime throughout the region.

Hector Ruben Matzar Ijchajchel was killed as he arrived at a residence in Villa Nueva, a suburb of Guatemala City, to hand over his takings to the owner of the taxi firm, Prensa Libre reported.

Matzar had reportedly witnessed an attack on a former colleague's son just days before he was murdered.

Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said that the attacks were directly linked to extortion by gangs, who carried out their threats so that the rest of the victims would pay up out of fear. He said that the government had formed a working group to investigate the crimes, according to Prensa Libre.

"What we see is a pattern, a modus operandi linked to drug trafficking and organized crime, specifically on the topic of the robbery of vehicles and all that goes with it," Lopez Bonilla said.

InSight Crime Analysis

Extortion is an important revenue source for organized crime in Guatemala, and in countries across the region. Transit workers are particularly vulnerable because they carry around large amounts of cash and because their work makes them highly visible and easy to target. A January 2012 country report (see pdf) by Human Rights Watch counted 183 murders of bus drivers in Guatemala in 2010, and 105 in the first eight months of 2011.

However, in this case, it is also possible that Matzar was killed in connection with the murder he witnessed.

In March, neighboring Honduras deployed 100 soldiers and police officers to protect threatened bus and taxi drivers in Tegucigalpa, and doubled prison sentences for extortion.

Extortion is inherently accompanied by high levels of violence, more so than crimes like drug trafficking, because in order for criminal groups to successfully demand payments, they must maintain a credible threat level.

In Mexico, taxi drivers often serve as lookouts and couriers for drug traffickers, exposing them to retribution attacks from rivals.

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

GUATEMALA / 12 JAN 2012

With former General Otto Perez set to assume Guatemala's presidency on January 14, he has indicated that he will continue…

GUATEMALA / 26 MAY 2011

Guatemala's president has warned that the country is being "invaded" by drug traffickers, following the arrest of another alleged member…

COCAINE / 11 JUN 2020

One of the worst fire seasons of the last decade has destroyed huge stretches of protected rainforest and prompted the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.