Guatemala’s Most Wanted

Guatemala’s Most Wanted

By Dirk Hanson 03/31/11
Image: 
Drug lord Juan Ortiz-Lopez in U.S. Custody.
Photo via af11

While the Mexican drug cartels pushing into Guatemala may have more rocket launchers and rifles than anybody else in the region, firepower was no match for a quick snatch-and-grab of Guatemala’s premier drug lord. DEA agents and local soldiers swooped into Quetzaltenango, the country’s 2nd largest city, and arrested a lightly guarded Juan Ortiz-Lopez in his home. The joint U.S.-Guatemala operation will likely extradite Ortiz-Lopez to the U.S. to face charges in Florida. The DEA considers him Guatemala’s most important drug smuggler—“the capture of a big fish,” as Guatemalan interior minister Carlos Menocal put it during a press conference. The drug kingpin is accused of smuggling tons of cocaine into the U.S. through Guatemala and Mexico over the past few years.  Guatemala has been battling against the destabilizing of various regions of the country by Mexican drug cartels.