28 Dead In Guatemalan Massacre; Police Suspect Drug Cartel Involvement
May 16, 2011 By Roque Planas
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Guatemala’s national police said Sunday they found at least 28 decapitated bodies in one of the worst massacres the country has seen since its civil war ended in 1996.
A group of 200 gunmen attacked workers on a coconut farm in the town of Caserío La Bomba in the northern department (province) of Petén along the Mexican border, according to Jaime Leonel Otzín of Guatemala’s National Civil Police.
“There are two women among the victims and all of them were decapitated,” Donald González of the Guatemalan National Police told Agence France-Presse.
Police said the motive behind the slayings is not known, but could be related to fights between drug cartels that are known to vie for control of the area. Police are investigating a link between Sunday’s violence and the killing on Saturday of Haroldo León.
Haroldo León was the brother of alleged drug trafficker Juan José “Juancho” León, who was murdered in 2008 in an attack authorities believe was committed by the Zetas gang, a Mexican drug cartel.
Interior Minister Carlos Menocal blamed the killings on the Zetas, according to AFP, but it was not clear what information he based his opinion on. Otzín said the police think the Zetas might be responsible, but they could not be sure. “We have two hypotheses about the case, but the investigation has to advance to figure out what happened,” he said.
The military is working with the police to investigate the killings.
Petén borders the province of Alta Verapaz, where the Guatemalan government declared a state of siege and sent the military to quell violence related to drug smuggling in December.
Guatemala has one of the highest murder rates in the hemisphere, at 18 per day.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Seventeen bodies were discovered in a mass grave in Durango on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 218 in the northern Mexican state.
- Thirteen people were killed in a clash between security forces and gunmen in Zihuatanejo on Saturday.
- Mexico’s immigration agency says that 40 immigration agents are currently under investigation for corruption and human rights abuses.
- Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has resigned from his post to allow the country’s new president to name his own government chief.
- A pop star known for his bad boy antics on stage, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, became Haiti’s new president Saturday and urged Haitians to set aside their divisions and raise the country from rubble.
- A report of three rifles missing from military barracks triggered the investigation into a former Salvadoran army officer who pleaded guilty this week in the United States to federal terrorism charges, officials in this Central American country said Thursday.
- A Nicaraguan court has again postponed a hearing for U.S. citizen Jason Puracal, who is accused of laundering money for organized crime.
- Venezuela’s government is urging people to save energy and has begun rolling blackouts in some parts of the country after two major power outages in the past month.
- Jesus David Hernández Grisales, also known as Shorty, is accused of being the hitman for a criminal gang in Colombia’s second city, Medellin.
- Police say Colombian sports official Sergio Rodríguez Jaramillo has been shot to death in Medellín.
- Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is in Peru accompanying presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori on a campaign swing.
- Amnesty International said in its 2011 report that Brazil needs to do more to address inequality and violence as 855 Brazilians were killed by police in 2010.
- Neither Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner nor Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attended Paraguay’s bicentennial celebrations on Saturday due to health problems.
- A Catholic priest in Concepción, Chile, suspected of abusing three children was arrested on Friday.
Image: Fernando Reyes Palencia @ Flickr.