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

BARRIO 18 / 28 MAY 2013

At least 470,000 people in El Salvador have links to gangs, according to government calculations, highlighting how deeply gangs have…


A quantitative assessment of USAID’s community crime prevention work in Central America suggests that these programs have a significant positive…

BELIZE / 10 AUG 2021

The leader of a transnational money laundering network cleaned drug money through a scheme that included casinos, a seafood export…

About InSight Crime


Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…


Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…


Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…


Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.


Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…