An area deforested by ranchers in the San Jose Las Flores community, 300 km north of Guatemala City

Money-laundering drug cartels are driving deforestation in Guatemala

An area deforested by ranchers in the San Jose Las Flores community, 300 kilometres north of Guatemala City

CARLOS ALONZO/AFP via Getty Images

Drug traffickers in Central America have been known to practise “narco-ranching”, in which they launder cash by buying land and cattle, then selling the meat in Mexico for money that can’t be traced to drug activity. A new analysis suggests this method may be responsible for up to 87 per cent of deforestation in a nature reserve in Guatemala – and the situation may be similar in protected forests along the drug transport corridor countries …