HomeNewsBriefGuatemala to Deploy Controversial Force to Mex Border
BRIEF

Guatemala to Deploy Controversial Force to Mex Border

GUATEMALA / 10 MAY 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Guatemala announced it will deploy nearly 300 members of special operations force the Kaibiles to its northern border with Mexico, even though the unit has a troubled history of ties to the Zetas.

By June 30, the government will deploy 500 soldiers to an operations base in El Subin, roughly 100 kilometers from the Mexican border. The move is intended to reinfroce state presence in Guatemala's northern Peten department and counter the threat currently faced by the population from organized crime, a Defense Ministry spokesman told Milenio.

The Kaibiles battalion, Guatemala's elite commandos, will cover some 300 square kilometers in northern Guatemala, including one municipality, La Libertad, where Mexican criminal groups the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel are both reportedly present. The area is filled with clandestine airstrips used by drug flights, according to one military official.

Following his election last November, President Otto Perez said that he was willing to increase the Kaibiles' role in the fight against organized crime, starting in 2012.

InSight Crime Analysis

The government has little legitimacy and even less control in the Peten territory, thanks to its sprawling jungle and thin population (the area is home to just three percent of the country's inhabitants). With an additional 500 troops on the ground, the military will enjoy access it didn't previously have. But it is only one step towards achieving lasting government control of Peten, and the security situation is unlikely to see any drastic changes in the short term.

The placement of the Kaibiles on the front line of the fight against the Zetas in Guatemala will raise uncomfortable memories of the infamous ties between the two groups. Since making their way into Guatemala in 2007 and establishing a measure of control in the country's north, the Zetas have been particularly audacious in their recruitment campaigns, in one case even broadcasting an advertisement via radio that urged current and former Kaibiles members to join their side.

[See Part I, II, and III of InSight Crime's report on the Zetas in Guatemala]

There are some signs that the recruitment campaign has been successful. Last year, several former Kaibiles were reportedly arrested for massacring 10 people on behalf of the Zetas in the Mexican state of Tabasco.

Becoming a member of Guatemala's special forces is notoriously difficult: just seven out of 40 trainees made it through the selection process last year. This advanced military skill-set makes them particularly attractive to a group like the Zetas who were originally comprised of former Mexican special forces. In an effort to maintain a level of logistical superiority over rival cartels, the Zetas have gone to lengths to recruit former military personnel not only from Mexico and Guatemala but from countries throughout Central America, including El Salvador and Honduras.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 25 SEP 2012

Guatemala has increased security in seven provinces to prepare for violent spillover from the rift in the Zetas gang, though…

EL SALVADOR / 18 JUL 2011

The governments of Central America and the Dominican Republic announced the creation of a commission to harmonize laws across the…

COLOMBIA / 18 OCT 2012

Colombia arrested seven alleged members of a transnational drug trafficking network, one of whom had links with the man suspected…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…