“I worked for Los Zetas, but I left that behind”

Óscar E. López spent 8 years prisoner in American territory because of cocaine distribution

Photo: Luis Cortés/EL UNIVERSAL
English 12/08/2017 17:34 José Meléndez/enviado Guatemala Actualizada 05:03

“I worked for Los Zetas cartel as a cocaine distributor in the United States. That is the reason why I was imprisoned for eight years in America. At that time, I studied and became an electronic engineer. I was deported to Guatemala. Now, I teach English and informatics to Guatemalan deportees. I am calm because even though I am aware that Los Zetas are dangerous, that is behind. I did not break bonds with them. They broke bonds with me, but before, they fulfilled the deals they made, because they helped my family.”

Straightforward, without fears or grudges, without blushing, and certain that when purging prison he paid his social debt, the Guatemalan Oscar Eduardo López Escobar, 46, remembers moments of his life. At 12 years old, he was given up for adoption by her mother-Sandra Salvatierra Escobar, who died in 2004 in California-to a Puerto Rican family with whom he broke bonds at 16. At 23 he migrated from San Juan, Puerto Rican capital, to Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked in hospitality and gastronomy. In 1998, with 27 and being a truck driver, he was recruited by Los Zetas in the state of North Carolina.

“I transported cocaine from the US-Mexico border to several states and I distributed it. In 2002, I was arrested in North Carolina with 25 kilos of cocaine and I was sentenced to 25 years in prison. One year per kilo. I submitted to Los Zetas with my silence and I never betrayed anyone. The pact was: “silence or silence to your family”. The Zetas fulfilled the deal and gave USD$ 60 thousand to my family and they paid a lawyer and other expenses. I respect them,” he says.

López talks with EL UNIVERSAL in an office break in Labor Connection (Conexión Laboral), a non-state company in Guatemala that helps deportees with their social reintegration. “Los Zetas sent money to pay for my house and for my children-Brandon, 22, Amy, 19, and Oscar, 18, and my wife, Melinda, 40-and they paid the lawyer and my expenses in prison,” he says. The relation with their US family is sporadic and through social networks on the internet. Being imprisoned, and being rewarded because of his good behavior, he began to study in a university of North Carolina and later on he was authorized to leave the prison to go to the university, with a shackle chained to its body. In 2008, he graduated and received two news, one good and one bad.

The good one: He began to work in prison with a salary of one dollar a day.

The bad: US immigration authorities told him that, because he was involved in drug trafficking, he lost the permanent residence permit that he obtain when he was adopted.