Guatemalan justice announced on Tuesday the dismantling of a major network of migrant smuggling to the United States, with the arrest of 19 people, four of whom are claimed by a court in San Antonio, United States.
“The dismantled group was systematically dedicated to the recruitment, transport and accommodation” of “Guatemalan migrants” wishing to enter the United States illegally, the head of the Guatemalan prosecution told a press conference against human trafficking, Stuardo Campo.
"We consider that it is one of the largest and most powerful (networks) that operated" in Guatemala, underlined the magistrate.
Guatemalan police and the US Department of Homeland Security cooperated to carry out the operation, he said.
The investigation began in April 2021 after the death of a Guatemalan migrant in San Antonio, Texas.
The migrants each had to pay the equivalent of between 9,000 and 19,400 dollars to reach the United States. The network was thus able to accumulate nearly two million dollars in bank accounts.
According to Stuardo Campo, this operation constitutes an "important precedent for the extraditions of human traffickers" from Guatemala to the United States.
The head of the network Felipe Alonso and his deputy Lesly Martínez are among the four members of the network claimed by the justice of the United States.
Every year, thousands of Guatemalans and Central Americans flee poverty and violence and try to reach the United States in search of a better life.
On June 27, 53 migrants were found dead in an overheated truck in San Antonio, United States, including 21 Guatemalan nationals.