Central American Leaders Promise to Fight Crime after Killings in Guatemala

By Dialogo
May 23, 2011


Central American presidents promised to redouble their efforts to fight
organized crime at a meeting chaired by Guatemalan President Alvaro
Colom.
The call by the leaders comes days after hitmen belonging to the Mexican Los
Zetas cartel murdered twenty-seven laborers on a Guatemalan rural property, a
massacre for which three suspects have been detained.
“We have made progress on the strategic plan for regional security,” Colom
said following the conclave, attended by the presidents of Honduras and El Salvador,
Porfirio Lobo and Mauricio Funes respectively, and by delegates from Nicaragua and
Belize, in the colonial city of Antigua Guatemala, 45 km west of the
capital.
The strategic plan will be defined in Guatemala on 22 and 23 June, at a
meeting that will be attended by the Central American presidents, as well as those
of the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Colombia, Colom said.
Three suspects have been detained in relation to the killings on the rural
property in the northern department of Petén, where the hitmen decapitated their
victims, including two women, while police and military personnel continue searching
the jungle region along the Mexican border, where Los Zetas operate with
impunity.
The detainees are Porfirio García, Toribio Barreno Pérez, and Hugo Álvaro
Gómez Vásquez. All three are Guatemalans and are suspected of belonging to Los
Zetas.
In addition, the authorities have succeeded in identifying at least twenty
former members of the Guatemalan military who are working for Los Zetas and were in
charge of guarding family members and friends of Otto Salguero, the owner of the
property, whom the hitmen were looking for in order to kill him, police sources
said.
The hitmen executed the workers while asking them about the whereabouts of
Salguero, who has come under investigation following the killings for suspected ties
with drug trafficking.
Los Zetas, whose networks extend from the
southern United States to Central America, are a group created by Mexican military
personnel who deserted some years ago to join the Gulf cartel, with which they are now
clashing.
Colom imposed a state of emergency in Petén and deployed police and
soldiers to the region after the massacre, the worst in the country since peace was
signed in 1996, following a bloody civil war that lasted thirty-six
years.
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