Effective Fight Against Drug Trafficking Leads to Positive Outcomes in 2022

by Pamela Contreras
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As part of its strong commitment to fight the crimes that threaten  Guatemalans, including drug trafficking, the Public Ministry maintains a forceful fight against this scourge. The Office of the Prosecutor for Drug Trafficking Crimes has been strengthened during the administration of the Attorney General and Head of the Public Ministry, Dr. María Consuelo Porras Argueta.

One of the main actions is the creation  of the Inter-institutional Center against Drug Trafficking in Guatemala -CICNAG- formed by the Public Ministry, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of National Defense. CICNAG’s purpose is to coordinate, act, collect, summarize, classify, and analyze information on drug trafficking, provide guidelines for effective operations, prosecute criminal actions, to prevent, combat, dismantle, and eradicate drug trafficking and related illicit activities nationwide.

Such coordination has guaranteed effective criminal prosecution and provided a timely and effective response in the fight against crime, generating important outcomes during the year 2022.

In addition, the prosecutor’s office conducted several actions to combat the criminal phenomenon of drug trafficking and related crimes at sea, by land, and by air; these include searches and eradication of illicit crops of the poppy plant, marijuana, and coca leaf.

Also, there were  strategic operations to dismantle criminal organizations and seizures of several illicit items such as weapons, drugs, money, and others were carried out.

Interinstitutional task, based on the analysis of events related to clandestine airstrips and under the strategic plan against drug trafficking, allowed operations to eliminate clandestine airstrips, preventing the use of open areas as illegal landing strips for the reception of aircraft loaded with cocaine.

Outcomes 2022

Dismantling of criminal organizations:

Seven criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking were dismantled through interinstitutional work and the proper application of the planned strategies. Some of these organizations are:

Primaso

El Profe

Vía 4

Dos Mundos

Phase 2: Illegal Aircraft 

Galileo

Los Galvez

Based on their hypothesis of the case and factual, legal, and evidential hypotheses, the prosecutors filed 284 indictments; 312 people were brought to trial, and 239 were found guilty and sentenced. 

Sentences range from ten to 125 years in prison for crimes of illicit trade, trafficking, and storage, international trafficking of drugs and substances, and murder.

Seizures

Cocaine

Guatemala represents a significant pathway for the trafficking of cocaine from South America to North American countries, with its final destination being the United States. The objective of this trafficking is to move from a transit country to a consumer country.

The Office of the Prosecutor for Drug Trafficking Crimes has implemented inter-institutional and international work strategies, thus arranging  through CICNAG meetings  with Latin American countries and from the region to implement work strategies, with the legal support of international agreements ratified by Guatemala country to fight the criminal drug trafficking phenomenon. In 2022, it achieved in 09 events the confiscation of 5,945.43 kilograms of cocaine, with an approximate value of USD80 million

Marijuana

Guatemala is one of the countries most used by criminal organizations to cultivate, transfer, and distribute illicit crops due to its climate, soil characteristics, border areas, and social and economic factors. 

The departments used for the planting and harvesting of illicit crops are Petén, San Marcos, Izabal, and Totonicapán. The Prosecutor’s Office for Drug Trafficking Crimes seized 1,168,607.77 grams of marijuana valued at USD 23,0907.17 in 2022.

Money

Criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking use different mechanisms and methods to transport large amounts of money from illicit activities.

In 2022, the Office of the Prosecutor for Drug Trafficking Crimes seized a total of US$822,670.34 in different types of foreign currency.

Eradication of Illicit Crops

The Office of the Prosecutor for Drug Trafficking Crimes, through CICNAG, carried out periodic and strategic eradications in several departments of the country to undermine  criminal organizations dedicated to the planting, harvesting, and distributing  of illicit crops in coordination with other government institutions. .

5,255,198  Cannabis Sativa plant

9,866,484   Poppy plant

3,181,980 Coca leafs Bushes 

A total of 283.01 hectares were eradicated amounting to an estimated value of USD 285,791,799.49

The departments with the highest  cases were Totonicapán with 54 and Petén with 47.

Chemical Precursors

Authorities ordered  the destruction of 110.04 metric tons of chemicals  estimated at USD 22 million in 2022. It is important to mention that the initial goal was the destruction of 600 metric tons.

Clandestine Laboratories

Seven laboratories were destroyed in the departments of Huehuetenango, El Progreso, Izabal and Alta Verapaz.

Clandestine Runways Disabled

In 2022, the Office of the Prosecutor for Drug Trafficking Crimes, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Defense, dismantled 17 clandestine runways to reduce the landing sites for aircraft that enter the country illegally and are used by criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking., dismantled 17 clandestine runways.

These were located in the departments of Escuintla, Suchitepéquez, Retalhuleu, and Petén. A total of 17,641 linear meters were disabled.

Operations Against Drug Trafficking

As a member of CICNAG, the Office of the Prosecutor for Drug Trafficking Crimes coordinates the necessary actions to fight illicit drug trafficking within the national territory. As a result of strategic investigations, it has been possible to determine how they operate,  detect the drug dealing points of sale of drugs established by the criminal structures that work in micro-trafficking, carrying out raids in which different types of drugs were seized, along with money, vehicles,  weapons, telephones, among other evidence related to drug trafficking.

In 2022, the Office of the Prosecutor for Drug Trafficking Crimes seized 13,535.60 drug units through six massive operations in 10 departments, preventing the population from increasing drug-related health problems (lung or heart disease, stroke, cancer, mental health problems, among others).

This office performed two critical operations as a follow-up to a strategic investigation aimed at disabling drug sales points related to the criminal phenomenon known as “drug dealing.”

Extraditions By the Public Prosecutor

Five people were arrested for extradition purposes for drug trafficking-related offenses due to international coordination and the exchange of information carried out by the Public Prosecutor’s Office through the Office of the Prosecutor for Drug Trafficking Crimes with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Roberto

Arnoldo De León Alarcón alias “Tobe”.

Rudy

Leonel Grijalva a.k.a. “Caballo”.

Galindo

David Luargas Fuentes

Otto

Godoy Cordon

Wilfido

Venamar Luargas De La Fuente a.k.a. “Peluche

Transnational Coordination

In November 2022, the Third Regional Meeting of Drug Trafficking Prosecutors was held in Antigua, Guatemala, to improve coordination mechanisms and strengthen international cooperation between the region’s drug prosecution offices to locate and dismantle drug trafficking organizations. 

Drug prosecutors from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador participated and discussed the issue of drug trafficking in the region. The Public Ministry reaffirms its commitment to continue fighting  against drug trafficking and all crimes that affect citizens and urges them to file complaints in all district, municipal, and prosecutor’s offices nationwide or through the website www.mp.gob.gt or the app Reportes MP available for Android devices.

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