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San Marcos

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San Marcos 21st centuryTowards the end of the 20th century San Marcos became a hot spot for drug trafficking in Central America, and one of the top lords was Juan Chamalé Ortiz, who was heavily involved in cocaine trafficking, and was accused by US authorities of helping to move over 40 tons of cocaine through Central America en route to the United States. Ortiz worked with local fishermen to smuggle cocaine in small fishing boats and may have also commissioned semi-submersibles to transport the drug. Ortiz also controlled a major opium poppy producing area, the San Marcos Department, where he was a popular local figure. He owned at least ten estates in his area of operations, centered in San Marcos city, and provided numerous jobs, in addition to cultivating local support by throwing parties and sponsoring beauty contests.San Marcos is one of the most important regions in Guatemala given its proximity to the highlands, Mexico and to the Pacific Ocean coast, where most of the drugs coming from South America land. Ortiz exerted influence over local politicians and police in the region, and relied on a powerful local support network to conduct his business. He is thought to have worked out a deal that made him the Sinaloa Cartel's top transporter, helping the Mexican group move drugs that arrived via Pacific routes. Ortiz Chamalé was captured in 2011 in Quetzaltenango and extradited to the United States in 2014 where he was sentenced to 262 months in jail; when Ortiz was arrested in 2011, locals protested to demand his release.
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