Alleged Guatemalan Drug-Trafficking Boss Wanted By U.S. Is Arrested

By Dialogo
April 01, 2011

Guatemalan anti-drug forces, supported by U.S. agents, arrested alleged drug-trafficking boss Juan Ortiz, linked to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel and sought for extradition by Washington, Attorney-General Claudia Paz y Paz announced.

“Juan Ortiz López, alias Chamalé, was detained today. This individual’s detention was requested by the U.S. government on Friday, 25 March, for purposes of extradition,” the attorney-general said at a press conference.

Meanwhile, Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal affirmed that Ortiz “is one of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s most wanted in the Americas.”
Ortiz, who faces charges of international drug trafficking, was detained in the city of Quetzaltenango, around 206 km west of the Guatemalan capital, Paz y Paz explained.

Under heavy security, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) helicopter brought Ortiz, who was apprehended together with two of his lieutenants, Luis Héctor Villalobos Mazariegos and Gerson Medardo Paz, to the capital.

“We believe that this arrest is of fundamental importance for strengthening the rule of law” in the western department of San Marcos, on the border with Mexico, Menocal said.

“San Marcos is a department that has suffered from drug trafficking and from drug traffickers’ violent actions; therefore, we believe that with this arrest, we’re taking steps to strengthen the rule of law,” he added.

The U.S. authorities consider Ortiz a dangerous drug trafficker and suspect that he is the Guatemalan contact of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán.

The famous Mexican musical group Los Tigres del Norte [The Tigers of the North] composed a ballad inspired by Ortiz, describing him as a “noble” man, “a friend with an open smile, who was loved by all the people.”

Guatemala, like the other Central American countries, is used as a bridge and a warehouse by cartels transporting drugs from South America to the United States.