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Three “Zetas” Arrested With Banners Claiming Responsibility for Massacre in Guatemala

By Dialogo
May 24, 2011

Three alleged members of the Mexican Los Zetas cartel were arrested with banners claiming responsibility for the massacre of twenty-seven peasants in Guatemala a week ago, and with a warning to the press to stop publishing news unfavorable to that organization.

The detentions – which are in addition to those of three other suspects – reinforce the official hypothesis about the responsibility of Los Zetas, to whom the authorities also attribute massacres of hundreds of people in Mexico. A spokesperson for the National Civil Police explained that the three individuals were detained in the city of Quetzaltenango.

The detainees, of Guatemalan origin, were identified as José Arturo Godoy Artola, thirty-two years old, Cristofer José Cardona Chen, twenty years old, and a juvenile.

According to the authorities, Los Zetas entered the rural property Los Cocos last Saturday, in La Libertad, in the department of Petén, around 600 km north of the Guatemalan capital, in search of alleged drug trafficker Otto Salguero, in order to execute him. When they did not find him, they murdered twenty-seven laborers.

The banners contained a warning to the press, indicating that they should stop publishing news unfavorable to that organization, “before the war is against you; the one who warns is not a traitor.”

The texts were signed “Z 200,” the same signature that was left at the scene of the crime using the blood of the victims of the massacre.

President Álvaro Colom decreed a state of emergency in Petén on Monday and sent hundreds of military and police personnel to try to retake control of the area.

Up to the present, the authorities have seized dozens of vehicles and weapons and have arrested three other suspects, including former member of the military and alleged drug trafficker Álvaro Gómez (Comandante Bruja [Commander Witch]), to whom they attribute the kidnapping and murder of three of Salguero’s family members a day before the massacre.

Los Zetas, made up of former Mexican military personnel, began to extend their tentacles in Guatemala in 2007, and their violent presence became evident on 25 March 2008, when they executed drug trafficker Juan José León, alias Juancho, together with ten other individuals, at a waterfront resort location in Zacapa (in eastern Guatemala).

Since then, the authorities have linked Los Zetas with around five hundred violent incidents, according to a report by the daily Prensa Libre [Free Press], which had access to intelligence reports from the country’s anti-narcotics units.