I knew we were in trouble as soon as our minivan crested the hill at 8 a.m., about 30 miles south of Guatemala’s border with Mexico. A band of heavily armed men suddenly erupted from the jungle, taking positions in the center of the road. Cloth bags with eye holes masked their faces.
The cowled gunmen surrounded us, screaming orders in a local dialect, their weapons trained through the van’s windows at our heads. In response, the driver turned up a narrow dirt path into the dense jungle.