The theft of $740,000 in drug money spurred the murder of nine Guatemalan police officers, prosecutors said during the arraignment of the man accused of ordering the slaughter.
His arraignment included the presentation of telephone intercepts in which Villatoro Cano was heard telling accomplices the police were killed because they stole a vehicle carrying $740,000 of the outfit’s money.
On the night of June 13, attackers wearing ski-masks arrived at the police barracks in Salcaja, Quetzaltenango province, entered the building and shot eight officers - some of whom were in bed - at close range.
A deputy inspector abducted by the assailants was found dead days later and his body bore signs of torture.
Besides the phone intercepts, prosecutors at the arraignment submitted a video showing some of the assailants staking out the police barracks prior to the attack.
Dubbed “Operation Dignity,” the probe of the massacre has led so far to the arrest of 36 people.
Teams carrying out the arrests confiscated 33 handguns and 12 rifles, large amounts of cash in dollars, Guatemalan quetzales and Mexican pesos, and 75 vehicles.
Besides the police deaths, Villatoro Cano’s outfit is thought to be responsible for more than 100 homicides in Huehuetenango province, bordering Mexico.