GUATEMALA CITY – Two Guatemalans suspected of belonging to Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel were arrested by the National Civilian Police, or PNC, in a city in northeastern Guatemala, Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz said Monday.
Alejandro Chacon Cerna and Rodrigo Orellana Recinos were arrested Sunday night in the city of Estancuela, which is in Zacapa province, during a special police operation.
The two men are suspected of belonging to “a support and logistics structure of the Los Zetas criminal group,” which operates in northwestern Guatemala, the attorney general said.
The suspects supplied Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent drug cartel, with arms, vehicles and houses, and they helped launder money for the criminal organization, officials said.
The arrests opened the way for the dismantling of the eighth Los Zetas cell in Guatemala, where 77 people linked to the cartel have been detained in the past two years, Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said.
“The capture of these leaders comes after an exhaustive operation by intelligence and investigative teams targeting the Los Zetas criminal organization in Peten, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Jalapa, Jutiapa and in Zacapa, where the eighth cell has now been dismantled,” Menocal said.
The arrests were made “without a single shot being fired” by officers from the PNC’s Special Criminal Investigations Division, or DEIC, and prosecutors, the interior minister said.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,” deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, becoming the armed wing of the Gulf cartel.
After several years on the payroll of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
The cartel has been blamed for several massacres in recent years.
Los Zetas was accused of being behind the Aug. 23, 2010, massacre of 72 migrants, the majority of them from Latin America, at a ranch outside San Fernando, a city in Tamaulipas.
The cartel has also been blamed for the massacre of 27 peasants in May at a ranch in Guatemala’s Peten province, which borders Mexico and Belize.
Zetas gunmen set fire to Monterrey’s Casino Royale on Aug. 25, killing 52 gamblers and employees trapped inside, most of whom died of smoke inhalation. EFE