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February 7, 2022Washington, DC, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

US-Guatemala investigation leads to the arrest of 10 human smugglers with ties to the murder of 19 foreign nationals headed for the US

WASHINGTON – An investigation by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), HSI Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU), Guatemalan National Police (PNC), and Guatemalan Prosecutor for Illicit Migrant Trafficking led to the arrest of 10 Guatemalan nationals tied to the January 2021 murders of 19 foreign nationals in a human smuggling event in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

“This joint transnational operation targeting a major human smuggling organization shows the importance of both governments collaborating to apprehend the individuals responsible and hold them accountable for transporting these noncitizens enroute to the United States, which ultimately led to their deaths,” said HSI acting Regional Attaché for the Northern Triangle Carlos Gamarra. “Hopefully, the results of these high-level arrests can bring some justice to the victims’ families.”

On Jan 28, HSI Guatemala City along with HSI TCIU, Guatemalan Military, Guatemalan National Police (PNC) Special Operations Group, and Guatemalan Prosecutor for Illicit Migrant Trafficking executed 19 search warrants and arrested ten Guatemalan nationals for violations of foreign law related to human smuggling, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. The arrests were part of a joint investigation by HSI Guatemala City and Mexico City, TCIU, and Government of Guatemala counterparts into the “Coronado/Miranda” human smuggling organization operating out of the Department of San Marcos, Guatemala.

This case was initiated from a Jan 2021 event where 19 foreign nationals were murdered in a human smuggling event in Tamaulipas, Mexico, in attempt to reach the United States. Sixteen of those killed were Guatemalan nationals. Seizures included both foreign and US currency at approximately $203,000 USD, five vehicles, sixty-one illegal gambling machines, one firearm, ammunition, and various electronic devices.

ICE encourages anyone who suspects human smuggling to report it to local law enforcement. Tips can also be submitted to ICE anonymously online at or by phone at 866-347-2423.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI's workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI's international presence represents DHS's largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.