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

ELITES AND CRIME / 28 MAY 2015

Two expert analysts explain how Guatemala's criminal networks have penetrated the state, and shed light on the ways in which…

GUATEMALA / 20 JAN 2012

The United States Treasury Department has designated a little-known Guatemalan woman as major criminal force in the country, as well…

EL CHAPO / 22 MAY 2013

Guatemala's authorities arrested an alleged member of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel on May 20, the latest supposed accomplice from the Joaquin…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Criminal Enterprise on the High Seas

12 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an extensive investigation into Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing that plagues the waters of nine Latin American countries. Among the stories were how…

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…