HomeNewsBrief'Intelligence Report' Details Role of Guatemala Police in Drug Trade
BRIEF

'Intelligence Report' Details Role of Guatemala Police in Drug Trade

GUATEMALA / 14 OCT 2014 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

A report allegedly produced for US anti-drug and intelligence agencies has detailed how corrupt factions of Guatemala's police -- including high-level officers -- dedicate themselves to stealing and reselling drug shipments, among other illicit activities. 

The report, reprinted in elPeriodico, called these corrupt police the "Charola Cartel" ("charola" being a reference to police insignia), and said they emerged after drug traffickers began paying Guatemalan police officers to protect their drug shipments in the 1990s. Some officers allegedly began stealing these shipments (a practice known as a "tumbe") and selling them to traffickers based along the Guatemala-Mexico frontier.

elPeriodico did not specify how it obtained the intelligence report or identify the authors or date of completion, but stated that the version of the report was "unedited." 

The report stated that there were two factions within the Charola Cartel, both led by former deputy police directors: Henry Ruben Lopez Gomez (who held the position from April 2007 to September 2008), and Rember Larios Tobar (who succeeded Lopez, and had the job until June 2009). 

According to the report, the two were formerly rivals, but began working together circa 2008. Lopez controlled the local police chiefs who participated in their scheme, while Larios ensured that the police internal affairs unit never investigated them. 

The report described how Larios personally participated in various "tumbes," stealing an 800 kilo cocaine shipment in 2009 and selling it to the owner of a bus company who worked for notorious Guatemalan drug trafficker Juan Ortiz Lopez, alias "Juan Chamale." Larios and other police officers also stole several bags of cash belonging to Mexico's Zetas, who retaliated by attacking police patrols across Guatemala, the report stated.  

The report states that the Charola Cartel is estimated to have more than 1,000 active members. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The lack of context on who authored this report, or when, makes it impossible to say why it was written. Nevertheless, as it stands, the report offers an eye-opening look at the alleged extent of police involvement in Guatemala's drug trade.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

What is perhaps most troubling is the implication that this wasn't a case of low-level officers acting independently, but was widespread and involved the top leadership. The so-called "Charola Cartel" seems akin to Venezuela's Cartel of the Suns, a drug trafficking network made up of the security forces, particulary the military and National Guard.

The report also makes reference to the lack of serious effort to clean up the police force. It notes that the police anti-narcotics unit has undergone several rehauls and changed its name multiple times since the early 2000s, but kept the same employees in place. This lack of proper vetting may not have been limited to the Guatelaman side: a 2008 US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks stated that "Embassy vetting revealed no significant derogatory information" about Rember Larios, who had just been appointed deputy police director at the time.  

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

EXTRADITION / 8 AUG 2012

Guatemala announced it will extradite Waldemar Lorenzana, head of the Lorenzana crime family, to the US to face drug…

ELITES AND CRIME / 17 APR 2015

Authorities in Guatemala have arrested two high-level current and former government officials -- as well as eighteen other suspects --…

GUATEMALA / 12 OCT 2011

As drug trafficking networks deepen their activities in Central America some analysts have expressed concern at the prospect of countries…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…