Guatemala Seizes More Than 2 Tons of Cocaine
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo September 25, 2020
The Guatemalan Army seized more than 2 tons of cocaine in an aircraft near the borders with Belize and Mexico on July 26. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told the press that authorities had been investigating the aircraft since it was sold in April 2019.
On July 26, “Defense radars of the Guatemalan Air Force detected an illicit flight, so the tracking plan was activated nationwide [to] deploy special units from the land forces to locate the aircraft,” Guatemalan Minister of Defense Major General Juan Carlos Alemán Soto, told Diálogo.
A day prior, on July 25, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Orlando was notified that the aircraft was en route to the Yucatán peninsula, after leaving Venezuela. HSI Orlando contacted HSI Guatemala and U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South to coordinate and prepare ground-based monitoring efforts and intercept the aircraft, which was allegedly carrying drugs, ICE said in a press release.
On July 26, Guatemalan service members found the aircraft, which traffickers had apparently set on fire, near El Chal municipality, Petén department. The troops also found two burned vehicles when they patrolled the area, the Guatemalan newspaper La República reported. “[Authorities] seized a light aircraft and 2,107 kilograms of cocaine. After offloading the cocaine, the narcotraffickers attempted to bury the drugs,” ICE said on Twitter.
Guatemala serves as a bridge for narcotraffickers to smuggle drugs bound for the United States, La República reported. “This is why the Guatemalan Army is working not only at the interagency level […], but also as part of cooperative security efforts in the region,” Maj. Gen. Alemán said.
According to Maj. Gen. Alemán, Guatemala has seized about 6.5 tons of cocaine so far from January to July, 2020.