Guatemala Anti-Drug Crime Drive Nabs 10
By Dialogo December 22, 2010A police and military crackdown on drug crime spilling across the border from Mexico has yielded 10 arrests in Guatemala’s northern Alta Verapaz department, Defense Minister Abraham Valenzuela said.
The anti-crime drive launched by order of President Alvaro Colom suspends some civil liberties, including the right to protest and urges people to report crimes. The campaign is to last 30 days, but Colom said it will go on “as long as necessary.”
Valenzuela told a press conference 10 people have been arrested so far in Alta Verapaz, “including one woman” and two people for carrying a weapon without a permit.
Eight other people arrested are suspected of belonging to drug trafficking organizations, he said, adding that all those apprehended claim to be Guatemalans.
Weapons, ammunition and four vehicles, “some armor plated and with characteristics used by drug traffickers,” were also seized during the anti-crime offensive, he said.
The combined military-police sweep focused in and around Alta Verapaz capital Coban, 220 kilometers (137 miles) north of Guatemala City, Valenzuela said.
The minister said Colom launched the crackdown because he “is very concerned over the growing level of crime and insecurity across Guatemala, and because Alta Verapaz is being hit hard by violence and organized crime.”
Authorities acknowledge that the Zetas organized crime gang — formerly the armed wing of Mexico’s Gulf drug cartel — control a large area of Alta Verapaz as part of their route protection operations.