US, Guatemala and Honduras strengthen narcotics fight
By Dialogo August 31, 2012
GUATEMALA CITY – Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of the U.S. military’s Southern Command, (USSOUTHCOM) said the coastlines of Honduras and Guatemala have become hubs in the trafficking of narcotics from South America into the United States.
“Key arrival points in Central America are the northeast coast of Honduras and then the Pacific coast of Guatemala,” Fraser said. “We changed our strategy to be more persistent … to see if we could have a bigger impact on trafficking organizations.”
USSOUTHCOM, which is in charge of heading combined military missions in Central America and the Caribbean, recently deployed 171 Marines and four helicopters to Guatemala. The move was in conjunction with Operation Martillo, an international mission that gathers Western Hemisphere and European nations in an effort to curtail illicit trafficking routes on both coasts of the Central American isthmus.
U.S. officials said 90% of cocaine from South America that arrives in the United States is routed through Central America, as Mexico-based cartels have established a presence throughout the region.
“These criminal organizations will continue to shift their operations and we will have to shift ours,” Fraser said. “As we put pressure along their routes, they will be making some changes, but we don’t know what those will be.”
Fraser met with Guatemalan President Otto Pérez on Aug. 29.
[Reuters (Guatemala), 29/08/2012; Prensa Libre (Guatemala), 30/08/2012]