Monday, February 9, 2009

Q4,000,000,000 in Poppies and Marijuana Destroyed

President Alvaro Colom reported that Guatemalan security forces raided and destroyed 864 hectares of poppy and marijuana plantations valued at Q4.819 billion (US $608 million).

Operations took place in San Marcos, beginning last Monday and ending on Friday. The seizure is the largest poppy and marijuana seizure in history, 60 percent more than all seizures in 2008 combined.

The action involved agents from the Servicio de Análisis e Información Antinarcótica (SAIA), the Policía Nacional Civil (PNC), the U.S. DEA and the Guatemalan Army.

Poppy plantations were located in inhospitable communities of Tajumulco, Ixchiguán Sibinal. The plantations could belong to the Mexican cartel in Sinaloa, Mexico.

"The drug cartels operate internationally so it doesn't matter who the plantations belong to," said Colom. He went on to say, "From now on will develop a program to assist the communities that were associated with those crops, to assist them in changing to productive projects." He also said that the Rural Development Program has Q10 million earmarked for such projects and work with the mayors of the municipalities involved will begin next week.

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