Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dangerous Mexican Drug Traffickers in Guatemalan Jails

The large number of Mexican drug traffickers in the central detention center in Zone 18 has authorities on alert for an armed rescue or escape.

The detainees are violent and include Daniel Perez Rojas, alias "El Cachetes", head of the group of assassins known as the Zetas, who entered Guatemala intending to conquer territory for the drug traffickers who run the Gulf Cartel.

The threat of a violent rescue is real. The PNC have uncovered plans to break seven of the prisoners out of jail but the plan has not been realized. Three safety measures have been installed, including an army tank.

Perez is the main concern of the authorities since Eddy Morales, director of the Penitentiary System, said yesterday at a press conference that he had heard constant rumors about a possible break.

The tension is so high that the Interior Minister, Salvador Gándara, joked that "every night we pray that El Cachetes does not escape." Perez (El Cachetes) is imprisoned with 19 others linked to the Gulf Cartel.

There are three rings of security at the jail with about 150 officers, including policemen, soldiers and prison guards.

The most recent capture of men associated with Mexican drug traffickers was made last Saturday, when five alleged members of the Zetas, three Mexicans and two Guatemalans, were arrested in Alta Verapaz and taken by helicopter to the capital the next day. Another of the defendants in the same jail is Victor Morales Gonzalez, one of four Mexicans caught at the end of 2008, accused of having participated in the massacre of 17 people in Agua Zarco, Huehuetenango.

Also in the same prison is Cárdenas Roberto Rodriguez, considered by the Mexican authorities as head of the Zetas in Veracruz. Rodriguez was arrested along with four Mexicans and a Guatemalan when they escaped after a shootout occurred between drug traffickers in Zacapa, in March 2008, which left 11 dead.

Regarding the problem of drug trafficking, President Alvaro Colom said that between 50 and 60 members of that group, mostly undocumented, are in Guatemala. He added that the drug traffickers have threatened judges, prosecutors and other members of the justice system.

"El Cachetes" is a very important man for the Zetas and with the concentration of several members of that group in the jail there a lot of risk.

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