Are the Zetas the most powerful criminal organization in Guatemala?
April 28th 2012 · 3 Comments
Los Zetas is the most powerful criminal organization in Guatemala, authorities said.
The Zetas recruiting street gang members, seeking mastery of key drug trafficking routes, and buy old military weapons in the Central American country.
The Zetas, operating in the country for about four years, and is stronger than any other organized criminal group, said Mauricio López Bonilla, Minister of Interior in a press conference on security issues on 10 March.
Los Zetas is the largest cartel in Guatemala
“The capture of key Guatemalan drug traffickers has allowed the Mexican cartel Los Zetas strengthen and expand its operations across the country to position itself as the largest criminal group,” Lopez said Bonilla.
The organized crime group has expanded its operations beyond the Mexico-Guatemala border, the interior minister said. The Zetas are now operating throughout Guatemala, Lopez said Bonilla.
As they expand their presence in Guatemala, Los Zetas are becoming bolder, authorities said.
The Zetas cause Guatemalan President
In March, the organized crime group deployed narcobanners causing President Otto Perez Molina and Roxana Baldetti vice president, who has proposed decriminalizing narcotics to deprive transnational organized crime groups profit from drug trafficking.
“Perez and Baldetti manage to legalize drugs, then we support the fight against gangs … Zeta 200,” read a narcomanta deployed in Guatemala City.
Also in March, Los Zetas unfurled a narcomanta in San Benito, a town in Petén, the northernmost province of the country. The banner displayed in San Benito threatened with reprisals from the Zetas if the Guatemalan authorities insisted on pursuing the organized crime group.
“In all civil and military authorities and the general public stop the persecution of the race and begin to kill. We are launching grenades into disks and shopping centers in Petén (…) because this is territory ‘Z’ does not want a war against the government this is a warning. Z200 “noted in the banner.
It is believed that Z200 is a leader of the Zetas in Guatemala, reported borderlandbeat.com.
Apparently, the banner was in response to the March 19 arrest of Gustavo Adolfo Colindres Arreaga, alleged leader of Los Zetas in Guatemala. Colindres Arreaga, 25, known as “The Rochoy” or “Commander Rochoy” is Guatemalan.
The Rochoy was captured in San Benito, by a team of policemen and soldiers, authorities said. Three other alleged members of Los Zetas were arrested with Rochoy, officials said. The objective in the banner was to intimidate and “destabilize” the government said Governor Henry Amézquita Peten at a press conference, reported the newspaper Prensa Libre.
Supposedly The Rochoy was in charge of drug trafficking operations for Los Zetas in the northern part of Guatemala, reported borderlandbeat.com.
The Zetas have been increasing its operations in Guatemala since last year:
• In March, the International Narcotics Control United Nations reported that Guatemala and other Central American countries experienced a dramatic increase in violence due to increased activity of the cartels. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Jamaica now have the highest homicide rates in the world, stated the report.
• In August 2011, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs issued a report stating that, “the border largely without government of Guatemala and Mexico” made the country an ideal place to trafficking of drugs by Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel .
• In May 2011, Los Zetas massacred 27 people at a remote ranch in the province of Peten. One person survived by pretending to be dead, but Los Zetas decapitated 25 of the victims, authorities said.
In addition to drug trafficking, Los Zetas are getting involved in other criminal enterprises in Guatemala, authorities said.
The Zetas buy weapons on both sides of the border
Transnational criminal organization has been working in the black market, buying military weapons from Guatemala and other Central American countries in recent months, according to a report written by the commanders of the Fourth Military Region of Mexico, which covers the states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosi.
These weapons include waste from civil wars in Guatemala and other Central American countries in the 1980s.
The Zetas are buying guns to the south and north of the border of Mexico. In February, federal authorities announced they had dismantled Texas two trafficking networks carrying firearms south of the border to Los Zetas.
The drug cartel needs to replenish its arsenal of weapons for the army and police have seized thousands of firearms, said a security analyst. The Zetas need weapons to fight not only military and police forces, but also the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels.
The Zetas also fight against organized crime groups in the Gulf and Sinaloa for control of drug smuggling routes in Tamaulipas and Monterrey, respectively, and other areas.
“The Zetas are arming themselves because their market is rising and penetrating other areas, especially in the states of Yucatan and Jalisco where they now have a foothold,” said Alberto Islas, a security analyst and exconsejero in the Zedillo administration.
In December 2011, Guatemalan security forces in Alta Verapaz arrested 10 alleged members of Los Zetas, and seized 150 assault rifles AK-47. Authorities also seized four armored vehicles.
Capture a key ally of Los Zetas
On April 3, Guatemalan authorities captured Overdick Horst Walther, the biggest drug dealer in that country and of course a key ally of Los Zetas.
Overdick, known as “El Tigre” was arrested at a home near the city of Guatemala, according to published reports. El Tigre has collaborated with Los Zetas since 2008, Guatemalan authorities said.
El Tigre was instrumental in bringing to Los Zetas in Guatemala, officials said.
U.S. seeks extradition of El Tigre on charges of drug trafficking.
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