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.

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.

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

EL SALVADOR / 19 JUL 2011

Sonsonate, in western El Salvador, has the highest murder rate in the country. Located on a strategic drug route to…

MEXICO / 3 JUN 2013

Mexico's Navy has arrested Eduardo Treviño Treviño, a close relative of the Zetas' top leader, wanted by the US DEA…

GUATEMALA / 21 NOV 2014

The alleged head of the Mendoza family drug clan in Guatemala, and various other suspected members of the criminal group,…

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…