US-Trained Guatemalan Forces Tied To Drug Gangs

US-trained and supported militias 'deeply infiltrated' by violent drug cartels throughout Latin America

by John Glaser, August 15, 2011

The Kaibiles, the ruthless U.S.-trained Guatemalan state militia infamous for their role in killing civilians during Guatemala’s civil war, are being recruited in large numbers to violent Mexican drug gangs. Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel is paying large sums to a multitude of Kaibiles forces to pass on the training they received from the United States military.

Guatemalan Army Col. Hellmuth Rene Casados Ramirez with U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Jon M. Davis

In May, Guatemalan military forces began to enforce a state of siege in the Guatemalan province of Peten, after the Mexican drug gang Zetas suspected of ties to Kaibiles massacred 27 farmers.

Mexican authorities recently captured Osvaldo Garcia Montoya, one of the most brutal of the new drug lords in the region. He has admitted responsibility for killing more than 600 people, most of them rivals who were beheaded and further dismembered. Montoya was a former Mexican military officer who had been trained by U.S. forces in Guatemala at the Kaibil Academy.

Guatemala receives approximately $1oo million in aid annually from the U.S., despite a record of corruption and ties to the drug gangs. The former president, Alfonso Portillo, is in prison on charges of massive corruption. Scores of police chiefs, senior military commanders, and defense ministers have been purged in an attempt to crack down on security forces with drug-trafficking ties.

Guatemala’s President Alvaro Colom said recently, “We seriously underestimated just how deep the infiltration of organised crime was in our institutions.” Yet American money, weapons, and elite training continues to be devoted to Guatemala.

(photo by DVIDS)

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