HomeNewsBriefGuatemalan Officials Identify 54 Drug Trafficking Groups

Guatemalan Officials Identify 54 Drug Trafficking Groups


An investigation by Guatemala's Interior Ministry has identified over 54 drug trafficking organizations within the country, including independent groups and those working as "subsidiaries" for larger transnational organizations.

Authorities also investigated the operations of 40 cells of Barrio-18 and 30 cells of Mara Salvatrucha, reported the AFP

The information collected in the investigation allowed the Minister of the Interior, Mauricio Lopez, to present President Otto Perez with a "crime map" at a June 11 cabinet meeting.

Lopez explained that the criminal groups have been identified according to their areas of operation, threat level, and structure, reported Univision. Some of the 54 groups function as "branches" of larger international organizations, while others operate independently.

The majority of these drug trafficking groups also engage in criminal activity such as arms and human trafficking, assassination, extortion, carjacking, and/or robbery.

InSight Crime Analysis

It is unclear how, if at all, the "crime map" given to President Perez, which was produced using information collected by Guatemala's intelligence agencies over the past year, relates to the map released earlier this week using information from anti-narcotics investigators from the attorney general's office. 

While the Interior Ministry could not provide more details, such as the exact areas where groups operate or how many members they have, because the investigation is still ongoing, the remarks echo past reports that the more powerful foreign cartels, most notably the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, often "contract" local groups for their operations within Guatemala. The infighting between these two groups -- and between smaller gangs affiliated with each cartel -- within Guatemala for territorial control is one of the suspected reasons behind Guatemala's recent increase in homicides.

In the past there have been indications that the increasingly sophisticated Maras street gangs, such as the 70 mara cells or "clicas" identified by the Interior Ministry, may also be working with transnational drug trafficking organizations such as the Zetas, although reports about the maras becoming "integrated" into the Zetas have proven unfounded.

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.


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.


Related Content


Extortion in the Northern Triangle is predominantly done from prisons, yet prison populations have been on the rise.

BARRIO 18 / 14 SEP 2022

In the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, Carlos was trained to become a ruthless soldier for the Cárteles Unidos.

BARRIO 18 / 24 AUG 2021

A scrapped investigation by El Salvador’s former Attorney General has revealed a massive trove of evidence that the administration of…

About InSight Crime


Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…


Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…


Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…


InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…


Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.