The capture of two former Honduran soldiers accused of training Mexican drug cartel the Zetas suggests that the gang is expanding its ties to ex-military personnel in Central America.

The two Hondurans, Roger Ivan Lopez Davila, 41, and Carlos Alfredo Herrera Gomez, 21 (pictured), had been in Mexico for two years and had allegedly conducted weapons training for the Zetas in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, a military official told newswire EFE.

Seven others, among them five minors aged 14 to 17 years old, were arrested with the two men 30 miles east of the state capital, Monterrey.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Zetas have their roots in the Mexican Special Forces, formed by a group of officers who defected to become the military wing of the Gulf Cartel, before striking out on their own. The group has a history of recruiting former military personnel and enlisting their help in training. However, this appears to be the first reported case of accused Zetas associates being from the Honduran military.

One of the main countries where the drug gang has fostered ties with both current and ex-military is Guatemala. Last year, a group of former Guatemalan special forces, known as the Kaibiles, were arrested in the Mexican state of Tabasco, accused of massacring 10 people as part of a Zetas assault. Guatemalan officials have also admitted that serving army officers trained and supplied weapons to the group.

The El Salvadoran Defense Ministry said last year that the Zetas were trying to recruit Salvadoran police and military officials.

The Honduras government has warned of increasing presence of Mexican groups, including the Zetas, in their country.

Investigations

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