Guatemala and Mexico Strengthen Joint Efforts to Secure Border
By Dialogo May 05, 2016
Authorities from Guatemala and Mexico recently met to increase the amount of information they exchange regarding security matters along their shared border and to strengthen joint river operations to combat organized crime.
On April 6th, Guatemalan Infantry Brigadier Generals Hugo Soto Arias, Commandant of the Jungle Special Operations Brigade Las Cruces, and Erick Rolando Montiel Aldana, Commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade Petén Santa Elena, welcomed Mexican Generals David Moreno Gutiérrez, Commandant of the 33rd Military Zone in Campeche, and Lorenzo Cano Jiménez from the 38th Military Zone in Tabasco, to the grounds of the Sixth Infantry Brigade in Playa Grande.
The meeting's goal was to exchange information about criminal enterprises that occur along the nearly 1,000-kilometer border the two countries share. The Military officials discussed the importance of joint operations to fight illicit activities, as well as how to deploy Troops to the region for operations, what informal steps they can take to fight crime along the border, and how to carry out regional aerial reconnaissance.
“We are analyzing the importance of joint operations and the results of operations conducted as part of the fight to combat the trafficking of people, contraband, drugs, and livestock that happens in the blind spots on the Mexican border with other countries,” Brig. Gen. Montiel told Diálogo.
Based on the each nation's successful counter-narcotics operations, Military officials "agreed to increase the number of river and ground patrols as well as the amount of information exchanged concerning crimes committed in both the Guatemalan and Mexican departments along the border."
Mexican narco-trafficking organizations, which often form alliances with local criminal groups, operate along the countries' shared border. The region is home to high levels of the illegal trafficking of people, drugs, and weapons, according to report La otra frontera con México
( The other border with Mexico
) published by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a civil organization that promotes human rights.
The WOLA report points out that the U.S. government estimates that up to 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States passes through Guatemala – and most of it crosses over the land border with Mexico.
“Unmonitored piers, navigable rivers, clandestine airstrips, and land and water passes are the areas most utilized by organized crime gangs for their illegal activities,” Brig. Gen. Montiel said. “Drug trafficking, the smuggling of illegal substances, and other types of illicit activity are the main challenges facing the two countries’ Armed Forces."
A Guatemalan team comprised of an officer, a sailor, seven Marines, and a motorboat belonging to the Jungle Special Operations Brigade worked with the Mexican Navy to carry out a joint reconnaissance patrol on the Usumacinta River from March 31st-April 2nd.
The goal of the joint patrol, which covered an area of about 50 kilometers, was to generate a peaceful environment for residents by preventing and neutralizing crime, the Guatemalan Army stated in an April 7th press release.
“In the last three years, Guatemala and Mexico have conducted 309 joint patrols," Brig. Gen. Montiel explained. "The river border patrols are a way of strengthening the existing ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and their Militaries."
The joint patrols and personnel exchanges are part of the Memorandum of Understanding between Mexico and Guatemala from the High Level Security Group (GANSEG) that was signed on August 26th in Mexico City. The agreement allows for the execution of concrete and effective operations of cooperation and coordination that contribute to a more prosperous and secure border.
The GANSEG works together in six subgroups to address the principal border threats facing Guatemala and Mexico by concentrating on intelligence, fighting organized crime and improving public and border security, among other topics. The Brigades also conduct patrols along Guatemala's border with Honduras and El Salvador.