Weapons and other contraband seized during a police and military raid are displayed in Coban in Guatemala’s Alta Verapaz province in December.
The hold of Mexican drug traffickers has overflowed the country’s southern border, as the Zeta cartel has seized control of parts of northern Guatemala, leading the government there to declare a state of siege in the area. —JCL
Hundreds of soldiers have reinforced police units in an offensive against a Mexican cartel known as the Zetas which is said to have overrun Alta Verapaz province.
The mayhem has deepened alarm that Mexico’s drug war has spilled across southern neighbours and corrupted state institutions that are proving no match for well-funded, ruthless crime syndicates.
“It’s very worrying to see this moving down from Mexico to weaker neighbours. Their institutions are being infiltrated by organised crime,” said Silke Pfeiffer, acting Latin America programme director for the International Crisis Group thinktank.
Guatemala declared a month-long state of siege in Alta Verapaz on 19 December after gunmen with assault rifles, grenades and armoured vehicles started openly cruising cities such as Coban.