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  • The operation involved roughly 300 National Civilian Police members in 30 raids.

    The operation involved roughly 300 National Civilian Police members in 30 raids. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 March 2019
Opinion

The network operated across southern and western Guatemala, and was supported by local policemen, Insight Crime reported.

A series of arrests last week brought down 15 members of a criminal group made up of local police officers working as drug dealers and hitmen in Guatemala.

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Leaders of the “Los Patrones” network Miguel Antonio Solan Solis and Sonia Haydee Lainez Aguilar de Salan, a married couple known as “El Patron” and “La Patrona” were among those arrested. Donil Vinicio Orozco Lopez, who goes by the alias “El Mas Chingon” (“The Most Awesome”) and headed up the group’s network of police collaborators, was also arrested.

Around 300 members of the National Civilian Police and agents of the General Subdivision of Criminal Investigation and the Specialized Division in Criminal Investigation participated in the operation which involved 30 raids across the departments of San Marcos, Huehuetenango and Escuintla in Guatemala.

The network operated across southern and western Guatemala, and was supported by local policemen, Insight Crime reported.

“Each [member] controlled their own drug distribution point, while the police agents facilitated the transportation of the illicit substances in exchange for economic benefit,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

In August 2018, eight police officers were arrested for their participation in the “Comando Silencioso” network, which carried out illegal raids in order to steal cash and valuables. That network was connected with the criminal organization “Los Marrocos” which had recruited police officers to seize and then resell drug shipments.

Guatemala, Mexico and other countries in Central America have been at the center of the U.S.-led war on drugs which has seen the countries receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for police forces and the military, which is subsequently leading to the militarization of police forces and high-levels of corruption in security forces.

A 2018 report by watchdog group Guatemalan Studies Center warned that the country’s Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart was pushing for further militarization in the police force by replacing hundreds of commanders with military officers.  

“The National Civil Police is going through an institutional crisis as a result of the systematic process of dismantling it by Minister of Interior Enrique Degenhart ... changes in the leadership of the PNC have been made without technical focus, only in response to the dark interests embedded in the state,”  the authors of the report said in its executive summary.

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