FEATURE The Untouchable Narco-State Guatemala’s military defies the DEA BY FRANK SMYTH Jungle exercises for the Guatemalan Kaibiles. 111111 he alert went out across the state this past July. A McAllen-based FBI analyst wrote a classified report that the Department of Homeland Security sent to U.S. Border Patrol agents throughout Texas. About 30 suspects who were once part of an elite unit of the Guatemalan special forces were training drug traffickers in paramilitary tactics just over the border from McAllen. The unit, called the Kaibiles after the Mayan prince Kaibil Balam, is one of the most fearsome military forces in Latin America, blamed for many of the massacres that occurred in Guatemala during its 36-year civil war. By September, Mexican authorities announced that they had arrested seven Guatemalan Kaibiles, including four “deserters” who were still listed by the Guatemalan Army as being on active duty. Mexican authorities say the Kaibiles were meant to augment Las Zetas, a drug gang of soldiers-turned-hitmen drawn from Mexico’s own special forces. It’s logical that the 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 18, 2005 photo by Jeremy Bigwood Zetas would turn to their Guatemalan counterparts. In addition to being a neighbor, “Guatemala is the preferred transit point in Central America for onward shipment of cocaine to the United States,” the State Department has consistently reported to Congress since 1999. In early November, antidrug authorities at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala told the Associated Press that 75 percent of the cocaine that reaches American soil passes through the Central American nation. More importantly, perhaps, the dominant institution in the countrythe militaryis linked to this illicit trade. Over the past two decades, the U.S. Drug Enforcement tary officers of all ranks in every branch of service of trafficking drugs to the United States, according to government documents obtained by The Texas Observer. More recently, the Bush administration has alleged that two retired Guatemalan Army generals, at the top of the country’s military hierarchy, are involved in drug trafficking and has revoked their U.S.