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Drug gang suspects threaten 'war' in Guatemala

By Guttz, Dec 29, 2010 | | |
  1. Guttz
    GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Men claiming to belong to the Zetas drug gang forced radio stations to broadcast a threat of war in a northern Guatemalan province where the government declared a state of siege last week, authorities said Tuesday.

    The men arrived at three radio stations in the northern city of Coban and threatened to burn the premises down and kill journalists and their families if the message was not broadcast, Interior Ministry spokesman Nery Morales said.

    The message, which the radio broadcasters read out Monday, threatened violence if Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom does not fulfill unspecified promises. It said "war will start in this country, in shopping malls, schools and police stations."

    Guatemala declared a monthlong state of siege Dec. 19 in the northern province of Alta Verapaz, a prime corridor for smuggling drugs from Honduras to Mexico and a bastion of Mexico's brutal Zetas drug gang.

    Residents in the city of Coban say gangs roam the streets with assault rifles and armored vehicles, extorting and kidnapping people. Shootouts have become a daily occurrence.

    The government deployed 300 soldiers to join about 500 police in patrolling the province.

    The state of siege lets the army detain suspects without warrants, conduct warrantless searches, prohibit gun possession and public gatherings, and control the local news media.

    Guatemalan law allows a state of siege for acts of terrorism, sedition or "rebellion," or when events "put the constitutional order or security of the state in danger."

    Security forces have captured 21 suspected Zeta members and seized 150 weapons - including assault rifles and grenade launchers - since the operations began.

    Colom vowed Tuesday not to back down, though he did not specifically mention the threat against the radio stations.

    "We are going to keep hitting the Zetas hard. Their threats are not going to intimidate me," he said during a public event.

    The Zetas have begun controlling cocaine trafficking in the area since the gang killed Guatemalan drug boss Juan Jose "Juancho" Leon in 2008. They are blamed for numerous shootings in the region, plus the killing of five police officers in 2009, a confrontation that resulted in the confiscation of 500 grenades and other military weapons and ammunition.

    Officials also say the Zetas have been recruiting from local indigenous groups, who suffer extreme poverty, in Alta Verapaz, and many people apprehended in Zeta operations are from the local area, according to prosecutors investigating drug crimes.

    Dec 28, 9:59 PM EST


  1. Guttz
    Drug gangs seize parts of northern Guatemala

    Government declares state of siege and suspends civil liberties as Mexican Zetas cartel overruns Alta Verapaz province

    [imgr=white]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18872&stc=1&d=1294410307[/imgr]Narco gangs have opened a new front in South America's expanding drug war by seizing control of parts of northern Guatemala, prompting the government to suspend civil liberties and declare a state of siege in the area.

    Hundreds of soldiers have reinforced police units in an offensive against a Mexican cartel known as the Zetas which is said to have overrun Alta Verapaz province.

    The mayhem has deepened alarm that Mexico's drug war has spilled across southern neighbours and corrupted state institutions that are proving no match for well-funded, ruthless crime syndicates.

    "It's very worrying to see this moving down from Mexico to weaker neighbours. Their institutions are being infiltrated by organised crime," said Silke Pfeiffer, acting Latin America programme director for the International Crisis Group thinktank.

    Guatemala declared a month-long state of siege in Alta Verapaz on 19 December after gunmen with assault rifles, grenades and armoured vehicles started openly cruising cities such as Coban.

    The move, permitted under Guatemalan law when the "security of the state is in danger", let soldiers ban guns and public gatherings, censor local media and search and detain suspects without warrants.

    Security forces detained 21 suspects and seized small planes and 150 weapons, including grenade launchers, in what authorities called a major blow to the Zetas, considered one of Mexico's bloodiest narco organisations.

    "These individuals were not just preparing to confront the security forces, they were preparing to take control of the country," Guatemala's president, Alvaro Colom, told reporters. Drug gangs were "invading" central America to move contraband from Colombia to Mexico and the US, he said.

    The Zetas struck back last week by forcing three radio stations – on pain of arson and the massacre of employees and their families – to broadcast a threat of full-scale insurgency if the government did not back down.

    "War will start in this country, in shopping malls, schools and police stations," it said. The message also claimed the Zetas funded Colom's 2007 election with an $11m donation and demanded he respect a purported deal to let them operate in peace.

    The message provided no proof and the president, who denies corruption, said he would keep hitting the Zetas. "Their threats are not going to intimidate me," he said at a public event.

    The US state department warned last October that Mexico's four-year assault on drug cartels was pushing traffickers south where law enforcement was weaker.

    Guatemala's civil war ended in 1996 but rampant crime has kept killings above wartime levels. A homicide rate of 53 people per 100,000 is about double Mexico's. Human rights groups say 95% of murders go unpunished, not least because corrupt serving and former security force members are behind many of them.

    The Zetas, founded by Mexican army deserters, expanded into Guatemala in force after killing a local drug boss, Juan Jose "Juancho" Leon, in 2008. They reportedly recruited Guatemalan soldiers, including US-trained special forces known as Kabilas, with a reputation for savagery. Impoverished indigenous civilians also reportedly signed up.

    Local gangs known as "maras" battle, and sometimes ally with, narco cartels. They also run extortion rackets, targeting businesses, taxis and buses. A bomb on a bus in Guatemala City on Tuesday killed five people, including two children.

    Analysts say the perception of chaos could benefit the rightwing candidacy of Otto Perez Molina, a retired army general, in August's presidential election. The former head of military intelligence is tainted by human rights abuses under his watch but his promise of a "mano dura" (firm hand) against crime resonated in the 2007 election, when he came second, and could yet put him into the presidential palace.

    Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent
    Friday 7 January 2011 12.45 GMT
  2. LordeV
    This will get hot. One wonders how deep Guatemalan government was infiltrated before The Zetas went rampant. Were the local institutions already fragile enough to allow such bold a move from the cartel or was the cartel bold enough to openly wave their flag without first bribing the right officials?

    The problem when analyzing those situations is being over-reliant on International Media coverage and all its bias. Without proper insider information, one can merely see the shadow of the chess-board; however, the implications of this game are huge. The Zetas are expanding and even in the dreamy interpretation of the US State Department it means they are a growing danger. It doesn't matter if they are being pushed away by the Mexican government, if that is really what is happening; all that matters is that once they cross the border and establish themselves, while still keeping their strongholds in Mexico (no sign they are losing them yet), they will become untouchable. They will be able to move in and out of reach from Mexican authorities, creating formidable opportunities to surprise attacks and adding resilience to their operations. Also, once they are confident on their military prowess after invading and holding territory outside their country, expect them to become much bolder and aggressive; naturally, this will create a precedent for other gangs of similar power.

    Chronic political instability in Central America added to poverty and other social malaises make countries on this region prone to invasions of well-organized paramilitary groups such as Los Zetas. Rule out international intervention (global crisis and all) and you will soon have a drug corridor running down to Colombia operated exclusively by de facto narco-states; and that would be only the beginning.

    Once Historians argued that civilization would not fall on the molds of Rome, for there are no barbarians roaming free on this world to take on our fragile realms. No more, for now we have created our own executioner. We fed them, we trained them and we created for them a path of wealth through violence by our laws. In our apogee, we had no problems in curtailing beasts of our making. Nor we cared to breed more, as consequences of our arrogance, for we were mighty beyond all doubt and they could not touch us where it hurts. No longer. The apogee ended three years ago; decline has begun. The barbarians now stir on the border, while their fingers run deep into US bowels. The attention of Americans is elsewhere, trying to recapture the world of prosperity that was lost forever for many with petty partisanship and radical discourse. The Republic's armies are marching overseas against resilient foes who understand their enemy's strength and weaknesses; those foes are also deeply embedded into the black network that flourished under-noticed beneath the visible markets. The barbarians are no longer at the gate; no, they are inside, outside, over and under it. They are legion, wave many flags, have many beliefs yet they are united in their greed.

    How long will it take before the wounds on our visible world attract more and more of those interested in taking over civilization? Once they festered in our remains, now they sense raw flesh and bone at the range of a bite. How long will it take before European Union crumbles under its own debt? How long will it take before the US does the same? How long will those self-absorbed Republican Empires, soon unable to provide to their endless vigilance and military might survive against the children of the Drug and Terror War? Children who soon will have nothing to lose, their noses keen on the smell of blood that flows from the beacons of civilization. Many of these children were mistreated by those Imperialistic Republics, most still are. The Republics fear them. Immigrants, sons of immigrants, common criminals, muslims and so on; they have hordes inside Europe and the US. Each fight for his own, yet they all hold the same grudge against the State and those who support it. They understand they are not welcome and soon, they will be threatened and expelled—but not if they act first.

    It is not known whom will strike first. It is not known which alliances will be made. One fact is certain: if the economic wheels do not start spinning again, the barbarians will grow restless. The power of many of their factions have grown. Their fortresses are intact. The legal structure that feeds them is in place. The whip that fall on their backs has grown smaller in proportion to their size. Their greed is insatiable. Their military tactics are unmatched by conventional armies. Who will stand against them? Who will have the power to stop their machinery of death and profit? Unless a black swan arises, a modern Attila is on his way.
  3. Killa Weigha
    Skepticism of the Guatamalan government's real intentions here is in order. It is well known that to get $US an Administration must simply exaggerate, if not completely manufacture, a threat. The US military/industrial complex's willingness to print up money and give it away is exceeded only by it's paranoia.
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