HomeNewsBrief'Zetas' Extort Guatemalans via Long Distance Calls
BRIEF

'Zetas' Extort Guatemalans via Long Distance Calls

GUATEMALA / 9 FEB 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

The Zetas have been blamed for a wave of extortions committed against Guatemalans from Mexico, which, if true, could illustrate the drug gang's deepening interest in the Central American country.

Authorities in Guatemala are concerned about a recent series of extortion schemes involving families with relatives visiting or working in Mexico. Guatemala’s Prensa Libre reports that victims claim the culprits are members of the Zetas, although the paper does not provide any corroborating evidence for this claim.

The victims, residents of the southeastern Jalapa province, claim to have received threatening phone calls from cellphone numbers in Mexico, in which they were warned that their relatives in that country would be killed if they did not provide their bank account details in order to pay ransom. The perpetrators provided specific information about the relatives in Mexico, including their physical description and details of their jobs.

Officials from the police's National Anti-Gang Development Unit (PANDA) report having received 12 complaints in Jalapa during first three weeks of December, but the total number of victims is unknown.

InSight Crime Analysis

As InSight Crime has reported, such long distance extortions are on the rise in Mexico. This is an attractive source of income to criminal groups because it is low risk, and can be pulled off using only a cellphone number and a few basic details about the victim. Often, the assailants are not actually affiliated with a criminal group, and are armed only with information garnered in a simple Google or Facebook search, like the names of a victim’s children or the type of vehicle they drive.

However, its possible that the wave of extortions in Guatemala was indeed carried out by members of the Zetas. The Mexican drug gang controls a vast portion of the country’s northern Peten region, and it is thought to have penetrated the highest ranks of the Guatemalan military.

Traditionally, Guatemala served mostly as a staging point for the Zetas' drug trafficking network. But if the group is stepping up extortion in Guatemala, it could be a sign that that their presence there has become so strong that they are now using it as a source of other types of criminal income.

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

MEXICO / 10 DEC 2012

Heavily armed men took over a municipality in the state of Chihuahua over the weekend, unleashing a wave of violence…

GUATEMALA / 7 FEB 2022

In this run-down neighborhood in Guatemala City, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) does not exist. And yet, there are still a…

EXTORTION / 26 APR 2019

A visit to a women’s prison in the city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, shows the increasing role that women play in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

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,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

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…