Mexican cartels reach Central America

Central America has become the outlet of Mexican organized crime for drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking

Mexican cartels reach Central America
To December 2018, there were 843 Mexican prisoners in Central America – Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 21/08/2019 17:49 Mexico City José Meléndez/correspondant Actualizada 17:49
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Organized crime in Mexico consolidates its presence in Central America, mainly in drug trafficking but also in other crimes.

On Sunday morning, 11 Mexicans who allegedly transported 400 kilograms of cocaine from Guatemala to Mexico by plane were arrested after landing in Petén, northern Guatemala, amidst the jungle and shootings from soldiers of that country.

Last Sunday in Costa Rica, other two Mexicans were arrested and accused of money laundering after trying to introduce USD $20 thousand through the main international airport of that country in a commercial flight coming from Mexico.

n Honduras, another Mexican was arrested on Monday, accused of kidnapping a 60-years-old Honduran carrier.

Central America has become the area of logistics services for Mexican networks of drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking” and related crimes, said Guatemalan Rubén Hidalgo, director of the non-state Guatemala’s Central American Institute of Political Studies.

“The influence and manifestation of Mexican organized crime in Central America can be either invisible or Dantesque. It has had a lethal impact on society and institutions. The isthmus is of geopolitical importance, but it is the sum of small countries, institutions, and weak justice and security systems,” he said. Regarding Mexican mafias, “it is extremely unlikely that Central America, decoupled and alone, can overcome the huge challenges in security and justice,” explained Hidalgo to EL UNIVERSAL.

The number of Mexican prisoners in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panamá went from 252 on December 31st, 2018 to 272 on June 30th, 2019, according to Mexicos’ Foreign Ministry (SRE). The count does not consider those arrested in July and August 2019.

Those seven countries concentrate 32.7% of the 854 Mexican prisoners in Latin America and the Caribbean to June 2019. Colombia, Perú, and Ecuador concentrate 54.3% with 463 Mexican prisoners. To December 2018, there were 843 in the whole region.

Out of the 1,070 arrested Mexicans in Latin America and the Caribbean, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle West, Asia and Oceania to June 2019, almost 80% are in Latin American and Caribbean prisons, according to the SRE. The data excluded Mexicans arrested in the United States.

Out of the 272 Mexican prisoners in Central American to June 2019, 138 were accused of drug trafficking, 82 of organized crime, and the rest were accused of other crimes, with confirmed, once again, that Mexican cartels use the isthmus as a springboard to bring to Mexico and the U.S. the cocaine that arrives by land, air, and sea from South America.

After surrendering or being extradited to the U.S. from their country, Honduran drug traffickers from the Los Valle Valle or Los Cachiros cartels, which were the most powerful in Honduras, confessed in American courts details of the transit of cocaine from the West to the East of that nation directed to Guatemala and Mexico, for the Mexican cartels of Sinaloa, Los Zetas, Jalisco New Generation, and independent traffickers in Mexico.

But other clans of Mexican organized crime control de “coyotaje” or the illegal flow of Latin American, Caribbean, African and Asian migrants to the U.S., with support of Central and South American mafias and with sexual exploitation brothels in Mexico.

Among the illegal businesses with Mexican presence are the purchase in Guatemalan villages of the production of bulbs or pulps extracted from Poppies as raw material to produce heroin, and the smuggling of arms, ammunition, wood, and archeological heritage properties. Central Americans, stated Hidalgo, are “problematic little countries.”


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