Guatemala has become a cocaine-producing country and is no longer used just for transit and storage, Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart said Wednesday, after the country located coca plantations and laboratories where the drug was produced.
“Following the discovery of fields planted with the coca leaf, Guatemala becomes a cocaine-producing country and puts Guatemala in a completely different regional security situation,” said the official at a press conference.
“This puts Guatemala in a completely different situation. Not only are we a country of passage or transit … but now Guatemala becomes a cocaine producer,” he said.
The minister said Guatemala is “working a very strong strategy with anti-narcotics authorities in the United States” to counter the development.
He said that on Tuesday, they received five helicopters that were repaired by the United States and will serve to combat drug trafficking in the Central American country.
Previously, the aircraft were piloted by US personnel, but now they will be operated by Guatemalan police after they obtained a North American certification.
Degenhart explained that together with the Ministry of Defense, they have dismantled three narco-laboratories, as well as coca leaf plantations — the most recent last Thursday in a Caribbean town. The operation occurred during a state of siege decreed in 22 municipalities after alleged drug traffickers executed three members of a military patrol.
The findings were in a mountainous area of the municipality of El Estor, in the department of Izabal, where the deaths of the three military personnel occurred Sept. 3.
Guatemala and the rest of Central America are used by international cartels that, with the help of local bosses, traffic drugs and launder money, affecting the high crime rate in the region.