Justice in Mexico

Mexico’s Los Zetas Suspected of Committing Guatemalan Massacre

05/17/11 – One of Mexico’s most violent and feared criminal organizations, Los Zetas, are allegedly behind Sunday’s massacre of 29 people on a ranch in northern Guatemala.  Guatemalan authorities have initially blamed Los Zetas based on the brutal method in which the victims were killed, as well as the fact that the cartel has already “set up shop in Guatemala and brought its terror tactics to the rural indigenous area along the Mexican border,” said U.S.A. Today. 25 of the victims were beheaded, and many showed signs of torture, both common tactics used by Los Zetas. Authorities are also investigating the organization for the possible connection between ranch owner Haroldo León, who was murdered late Saturday night, and the Zetas previous murder of Juan José León, Haroldo’s brother and known Guatemalan drug trafficker, in 2008.

According to reports, while authorities have captured one suspect, Guatemalan soldiers are working to secure its border with Mexico to prevent other killers from fleeing the country.  On Monday, Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom condemned the attacks stating, “This is a barbarity. We will get them even if they’re hiding in their lair. We will get them.” However, pursuing Los Zetas is a difficult and dangerous reality given the cartel’s established presence, strength, and heavy weaponry. Moises Ical, a national civil police spokesman in Guatemala ceded, “We have neither the personnel nor the means to fight these drug traffickers.”

The majority of the victims were workers on the “Los Cocos” ranch in the town of Caserío La Bomba in the Petén region on the border. Despite the possibility of the murders being drug related, none of the farm hand victims are thought to have ties to organized crime. Rather, authorities believe they were “innocent ranch workers and their families caught up in an increasingly bloody war mirroring the Zetas quest for territory in Mexico.”


Johnson, Tim. “27 die in drug-related massacre in Guatemala.” Miami Herald. May 15, 2011. 

“Culpa Guatemala a Los Zetade la masacre.” Milenio. May 16, 2011.

“Guatemala says Zetas drug gang responsible for massacre of 29 ranch workers near Mexico border.” Washington Post. May 16, 2011.

“Guatemala: Massacre was work of Mexico drug gang.” U.S.A. Today. May 16, 2011.

“Masacre en Guatemala; sospechan de Los Zetas.” El Universal. May 16, 2011. 

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