Citing Zetas Drug Gang, Guatemalan Interior Minister Calls for More US Assistance

Citing recent clashes between Guatemalan security forces and the Zetas drug trafficking organization, Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal called on the US to provide for more anti-narcotics assistance.  

According to a CNN en Español interview, Guatemalan authorities have seized $5.8 billion (an amount equal to the Central American country’s entire budget) in assets from alleged criminals since 2008.  

Although the United States has provided close to $1.8 billion in assistance to the region through the aid package known as the Merida Initiative, the vast majority of the money has gone to Mexico.  To remedy this, the US government has pledged $165 million to a project known as the Central American Regional Security Initiative, according to a State Department report.  However, Menocal said that at least $250 million would be needed to fight drug traffickers in the region.  

“In the end, the vast majority of drugs travel through Central America,” said Menocal. “And the assignment of resources or the financial support of the United States government is not the same as Colombia and Mexico receive.”