40% of the 6,200 murders committed in Guatemala last year were linked to drug trafficking, President Álvaro Colom told the press today.
"Of all homicides committed last year, 26% were related to drug trafficking and 14% to drug dealing-related violence," said the President.
These numbers, Colom explained, prove "the disturbing presence" of international drug trafficking groups within the country, such as the Mexican assassins known as "Los Zetas," which are linked to the Gulf cartel.
"We have information from intelligence (services) that some 52 members of 'The Zetas' are operating within the country, of which we have already captured twelve, and we expect to catch more,” said the representative in an interview with local radio station Emisoras Unidas.
The President acknowledged the "horrific" violence statistics reported last year in the country, but insisted that "more than 40% of crime is related to drug trafficking” and most of the rest “is derived from it.”
"We did not have statistics earlier, and we had twelve or fifteen murders a day without any classification that would allow us to tackle the original causes. Now we carefully analyze the past year’s violence, and we know where it comes from," he said.
Colom noted that "Guatemala is constantly under attack by organized crime," so "the harder we attack organized crime, the harder its reaction will be."
The government's fight against organized crime "is the top priority," he said, in which the International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), supported by the United Nations, "plays an important role."
Guatemala, with a daily average of 17 murders and the apparent presence of drug traffickers in the north and northeast, has become one of the most violent countries in Latin America.
Reducing levels of violence and combating impunity, Colom clarified, are "outstanding priorities" for his administration, which completed its first year in office on January 14.