GUATEMALA CITY – Two Guatemalan police have been arrested on charges of having killed a youth gang member in the southern municipality of Villa Nueva, authorities said.
The agents, identified as Walter Martinez, 28, and Saul Estrada, 19, were arrested Friday by National Civil Police colleagues.
The local daily Prensa Libre said in its online edition that some agents heard shots Friday morning in downtown Villa Nueva, and when they arrived at the crime scene, they saw two men getting away and found an unidentified gang member slain.
The two men, who were apparently dressed in civilian clothing, went to the police station located near the crime scene, where they were arrested.
The two agents had been drinking and their .9mm weapons were taken from them and sent to a forensics lab to establish which was used to kill the delinquent.
Street gangs are blamed for much of the violence plaguing this Central American nation.
About 43 percent of the average 17 murders per day registered in Guatemala are linked to organized crime groups and 20 percent to youth gangs, Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said last year.
According to National Civil Police statistics, at least nine officers with the force or employees of the General Directorate of the Penitentiary System have been murdered in attacks staged in 2010 as alleged reprisals by youth gangs.
Violence directed at transit workers and bus passengers is blamed on youth gangs that seek to extort protection payments from drivers and company owners.
Guatemala’s high murder rate, which the authorities attribute to youth gangs, drug traffickers and organized crime, makes this one of the most violent nations in Latin America.