HomeNewsBriefWho Will Fill Vacuum After Key Guatemala Capture?
BRIEF

Who Will Fill Vacuum After Key Guatemala Capture?

GUATEMALA / 16 MAY 2014 BY SETH ROBBINS EN

Authorities in Guatemala have captured a powerful Mexico cartel-linked drug kingpin who controlled three key land trafficking routes, raising the question of who will take his place.

Guatemalan Special Forces tracked Jairo Orellana Morales, alias “El Pelon,” to the municipality of Gualan, in the eastern department of Zacapa, where they engaged in a firefight with his bodyguards, reported elPeriodico

Authorities said they had been tracking Orellana since August 2013. After his capture, he was immediately moved to an air force base before being transferred to capital Guatemala City to avoid any rescue attempts, reported Prensa Libre.

InSight Crime Analysis

Orellana entered the drug business at a young age as a gunman for the Lorenzanas, an infamous trafficking family with links to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. He has a child with Marta Lorenzana, the daughter of the family patriarch, Waldemar Lorenzana, who was recently extradited to the United States.

However, Orellana eventually allied himself with the Sinaloa Cartel’s Mexican rivals, the Zetas, whose operations he reportedly directed in Zacapa. His penchant for stealing drug shipments from rivals — a practice known as a “tumbe” — including 1.5 tons of cocaine belonging to the Sinaloa Cartel, saw him nicknamed “King of the Tumbes.”

SEE ALSO: The Zetas in Guatemala

In mid-2013, Orellana’s activities saw him designated by the US Treasury under the Kingpin Act.

But taking him down has not been easy for authorities or his many enemies, which eventually came to include the Zetas. In November 2012, Orellana narrowly escaped being killed by Zetas gunmen at a hospital. Several of his bodyguards were not so lucky and the enemy gunmen, hunting Orellana, shot them execution-style.

While Orellana came up through the ranks of a traditional criminal organization, his success has come from his ability to negotiate and break alliances in ways favorable to him. He joined up with the Zetas when they were rising in power in Guatemala but as their influence waned, he quickly filled the gap by working as a free agent, and he may even have been selling drugs to the rival Sinaloa cartel (see elPeriodico chart showing Orellana’s role in Guatemala’s drug trafficking structure, below).

Orellana also benefitted from a clamp down on air and maritime trafficking routes by authorities, making the three land routes he controlled vital to moving drugs into Mexico. What remains to be seen is who will fill the void left by his capture. 

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Tags

Related Content

DRUG POLICY / 24 MAY 2019

In late March, President Donald Trump followed up on his threat to suspend US aid to El Salvador, Honduras and…

BARRIO 18 / 10 SEP 2014

Officials in Guatemala have identified the areas of the capital controlled by the MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs, illustrating the…

ELITES AND CRIME / 17 JUN 2020

In 2015 and 2016, anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala saw a ray of hope, as criminal investigations led to the resignation…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…