HomeNewsBriefUS Report Shows Zetas Corruption of Guatemala's Special Forces
BRIEF

US Report Shows Zetas Corruption of Guatemala's Special Forces

GUATEMALA / 8 NOV 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Newly declassified US security reports highlight how the Zetas recruited men from Guatemalan Special Forces unit the Kaibiles for use in operations in both Mexico and Guatemala, underlining concerns about the deployment of the unit on anti-narcotics operations.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) cables and reports were part of a raft of documents released to the National Security Archive that track the rise of the Zetas since before their 2010 break away from the Gulf Cartel.

In several of the documents from 2009 and 2010, the DEA highlight how the Zetas recruited from the Kaibiles, a controversial Special Forces unit that current Guatemalan President Otto Perez, himself a former Kaibiles member, has deployed in anti-narcotics operations.

In one 2009 cable, the DEA discusses how Kaibiles recruits are used to source firearms and grenades from the Guatemalan military. Another cable, from 2010, describes how members of the Kaibiles were arrested in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas following a shootout between the Zetas and the security forces.

InSight Crime Analysis

The practice of recruiting the Kaibiles confirmed in the security documents is open knowledge, with the Zetas even going so far as to target them with recruitment drives through local pirate radio stations.

Recruiting from the ranks of Special Forces not only helps the Zetas enlist men with military experience and connections in the security forces, it also continues the founding tradition of the Zetas, which were originally a breakaway Mexican Special Forces unit.

As shown in the documents, the Zetas not only used the Kaibiles in their rapid expansion throughout Guatemala, they were also active in Mexico, suggesting the Zetas deploy them as shock troops in disputed territories.

SEE ALSO: The Zetas in Guatemala 

While unsurprising that the Zetas recruit in this way, confirmation of the fact the authorities have long been aware of this raises concerns about the use of the Kaibiles to tackle drug trafficking. Perez has significantly increased the role of the Kaibiles in anti-narcotics operations, and last year deployed them to the northern Mexican border region -- a zone where the Zetas, along with the Sinaloa Cartel, are active -- a policy that now seems particularly risky.

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.

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 / 10 AUG 2022

Authorities in Guatemala have dismantled several human trafficking networks in a series of coordinated operations, shedding light on…

GUATEMALA / 23 SEP 2021

The Jalisco Cartel New Generation, which has rapidly expanded to become Mexico's greatest criminal threat, may now be spreading its…

COCAINE / 8 NOV 2021

Cocaine, synthetic drugs, weapons, migrants, gasoline - this range of criminal economies has seen violence escalate in Mexico's northern state…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…

WORK WITH US

Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.