Guatemalan Drug Lord Captured


By David Amoruso

Guatemala's most wanted drug lord, Juan Ortiz Lopez, has been captured by U.S. and Guatemalan agents yesterday. Soldiers and police in helicopters swooped into Ortiz Lopez’s home city of Quetzaltenango and raided his home. Inside, they found the alleged Cartel leader and two accomplices who are thought to be bodyguards.

Ortiz Lopez (41) is accused of smuggling tonnes of cocaine through Guatemala to Mexico and the United States over the past decade, according to a U.S. indictment. He now faces extradition to the United States to stand trial on these charges. If convicted he will spend the rest of his life in prison. The arrests mark another successful joint operation of U.S. and Guatemalan forces in the war on drugs. In October of last year they already arrested Mauro Solomon Ramirez Barrios, a henchman of Ortiz Lopez.

A week ago, American President Barack Obama promised an extra $200 million dollars to fight drug trafficking and gang violence in Central America. Much of the drug violence has spilled over into the U.S. with States that border Mexico seeing a rise in drug related murders. The United Nations have also promised more international support for Central America, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon explaining that “organized crime is an international phenomenon that requires a regional response”.

Guatemala has seen an influx of drug cartels that use the country as a smuggling route and base of operations. The amount of illegal drugs seized in Guatemala doubled between 2008 and 2009, according to the U.S. state department. About 250 tonnes of cocaine are thought to have passed through the country in 2009. Cartels fly the dope in from Colombia and other South American nations, unload it, and send it on its way across the porous border with Mexico and on to the U.S. market.

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