The killing of seven men at a medical complex in this capital was the work of drug-cartel enforcers, Guatemala’s interior minister said Friday.
Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told reporters that the intended target of Thursday’s attack was reputed kingpin Jairo Orellana Morales, who escaped unharmed.
The 30-year-old Orellana drove away when he noticed gunmen apparently waiting for him at the building in an affluent, gated community on the south side of Guatemala City.
The kingpin left behind his seven bodyguards, who were disarmed and then shot execution-style.
The attack on Orellana was ordered by the Mexico-based Los Zetas cartel, an intelligence source told Efe, in a bid to bolster control of key smuggling routes in Guatemala.
Orellana went to the medical complex for an outpatient surgical procedure.
One of the seven men killed Thursday was Santiago Coc, who was a member of an elite police anti-drug unit until his dismissal from the force in 2008.
More than 100 Zetas have been captured in Guatemala since 2008, when the cartel moved into the Central American country.
The Zetas, founded by deserters from a U.S.-trained Mexican special forces unit, are blamed for several mass killings in Guatemala.