Now, Guatemalan authorities say, they have begun to see new and disturbing evidence of an alliance between the Maras and another of the most feared criminal organizations in Latin America - a deal with the potential to further undermine a U.S.-backed effort to fight violent crime and narcotics trafficking in the region.
Secret jailhouse recordings and a turncoat kidnapper have described a pact between leaders of the Maras and the Zetas, the brutal Mexican paramilitary drug cartel that has seized control of large parts of rural northern Guatemala in its campaign for mastery of drug-trafficking routes from South America to the United States.
In recent months, authorities say, they have begun to see the first signs that the Zetas are providing paramilitary training and equipment to the Maras in exchange for intelligence and crimes meant to divert law-enforcement resources and attention.See also Fox News and the Huffington Post. I was initially suspicious when the evidence was based upon "secret jailhouse recordings and a turncoat kidnapper."
However, there were also statements from Estuardo Velasco, the head of an Interior Ministry task force on organized crime. Velasco told Ruiz-Goiriena that "the Maras' training by the Zetas had manifested itself in the increasing brutality, planning, organization and firepower of Maras' operations in Guatemala."
Well, this afternoon Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla said that Velasco does not work for the Interior Ministry. It's not clear from the article that he knows who he is. López Bonilla did say that they estimate that 10-12,000 gang members operate in Guatemala. They do not have a single leader or a unified structure. And, if they are involved in the drug trade, it is on the distribution of the business.
It's kind of like Latin America's relationship with Iran. There's nothing to get excited about right now but any thing can happen. Who would have expected the Gipper to be illegally trading weapons to the Iranians via the Israeli to free US hostages in Lebanon and to use the profits to arm the contras in Honduras to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua? Or Ozzie Guillen saying something controversial in Miami?