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El Universal, Oct. 31, 2005
by Silvia Otero/El Universal
A top official for the Special Investigation into Organized Crime, or SIEDO, said Sunday that former members of an elite Guatemalan counterinsurgency unit had indeed been joining the ranks of the feared drug hit men known as the "Zetas."
At a press conference Sunday, SIEDO's José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos produced a report carried out by the federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) that he said showed evidence that 30 Guatemalan ex-paratroopers, known as "Kaibiles," are collaborating with the Zetas.
Fears of Kaibil integration with the Zetas began last month, after seven men with military backgrounds were detained near the Guatemalan border.
At first, officials said they doubted the men were Kaibiles. Shortly thereafter, however, they said the detainees had received training from Kaibil forces, but that they were still investigating whether the men had drug links.
On Sunday, Santiago Vasconcelos told reporters that evidence now confirmed that 30 of the exparatroopers were being paid US700 a week to work with the Zetas and carry out drug smuggling operations in Mexico.
Still, when detailing the case of one suspect, he said the man "is of Guatemalan nationality, and we are about to confirm whether he is or isn't a Kaibil, but it would seem that he is."
The move by the Zetas to invite the Kaibiles is part of an effort to patch up their depleted ranks, said the SIEDO official. According to Santiago Vasconcelos, only a dozen of the original 50 Zetas who started the group in 2001 remain.
The Zetas are themselves led by deserters from an elite Mexican Army unit.