GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan army anti-drug unit has destroyed, with U.S. help, 80 hidden landing strips in a national park over the last five months of a joint operation, according to officials.
The now-destroyed runways in the Laguna del Tigre Park in northern Guatemala had been constructed by Mexican drugtrafficking organizations, reported the commander of the unit, who requested that his identity not be revealed for security reasons.
The army corps, known as FIT, was created last year on the orders of President Oscar Berger to combat the international drug cartels that use Guatemala as a weight station for shipping narcotics from Colombia to the United States.
Laguna del Tigre Park is in the jungle area that has been declared an ecological reserve, located some 600 kilometers north of the Guatemalan capital near the border with Mexico.
“For years, the drug traffickers have been hiring the residents of nearby towns to clear large sections of forest to construct clandestine airstrips,” the FIT commander said.
To destroy the landing strips, the Guatemalan army used armored personnel carriers and heavy machinery.