Photo: U.S. Aids Guatemala on Narco Wars
Guatemala plans to create a military unit to fight drug trafficking in the Pacific region and in San Marcos, a province on the border with Mexico, with U.S. support, Defense Minister Ulises Anzueto said.
The Tecun Uman Military Task Force’s mission will be to prevent drugs from being smuggled into the Central American country via maritime routes, Anzueto said.
The United States will provide vehicles for patrols and communications equipment to aid the unit in protecting blind spots and maritime zones in the Pacific, the defense minister said.
The unit’s commander has not yet been selected, Anzueto said, adding that the task force’s members would be drawn from the army and it would begin operations in the middle of this year.
Guatemala’s coasts have become the main entry point for drugs bound from South America to Mexico and then the United States, officials said.
Nearly 70 percent of the drugs entering Guatemala are smuggled in via maritime routes, mainly in the Pacific region, Anzueto said.
Drugs used to be smuggled into Guatemala mainly by air, but stepped up helicopter patrols by drug enforcement agents forced smugglers to change their tactics.
Drugs smuggled into the country via the Pacific are moved by land to El Carmen and Ocos, located in the northwestern province of San Marcos, officials said.
The announcement about the unit’s creation comes days after President Otto Perez said the United States boycotted a Central American summit last month at which he proposed decriminalizing drugs.
The summit, which was hosted by Guatemala, drew only Panama and Costa Rica.