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.

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.

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 12 OCT 2011

As drug trafficking networks deepen their activities in Central America some analysts have expressed concern at the prospect of countries…

GUATEMALA / 28 JAN 2011

Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador will create a special task force charged with confronting the Zetas, said President Alvaro Colom,…

MEXICO / 2 DEC 2011

Mexican army troops have dismantled a sophisticated communications network, believed to have been operated by the Zetas…

Institutional Content

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …