viernes, 21 de junio de 2013

Guatemalan President confirms kidnapped agent's death

Guatemala's President Otto Pérez Molina publicly stated his condolences to the family of a police officer kidnapped on 13 June and later murdered by a gang, as evidence seemed to have confirmed, Guatemalan media reported on 21 June. Earlier authorities had hesitated to confirm that the remains of a body found in the western department of Huehuetenango belonged to the agent César García Cortez, perhaps daring to hope he might be alive. Tests however on body bits apparently confirmed the agent's identity and violent fate. Mr Pérez vowed speaking to a gathering of police cadets, "we shall not rest until we see those who perpetrated this attack behind bars" the dailies Diario de Centro América and Siglo 21 reported. Authorities separately detained two suspected Mara gangsters shortly after they kidnapped two detectives of the state prosecution service in Guatemala City, Prensa Libre reported on 21 June. The suspects entered a restaurant where the detectives were eating and forced them into a car, unaware of being observed by other agents or colleagues of the kidnapped. Police units stopped them shortly after they drove away.

Politician, preacher murdered in Honduras

A Liberal Party leader and municipal councilwoman of the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula was gunned down there as she arrived at work on 21 June, the daily La Prensa reported. An assailant shot Sonia Landaverde several times before she could enter the municipal building, but reportedly did not rob her belongings after she fell. A preacher was separately found stabbed to death outside the district of Santa Rosa de Copán in western Honduras on 20 June, a day after he was reported as missing. José Eduardo Mejía, who 17 years previously founded a local Evangelical Church called Dios es Amor, was last seen leaving his house in Santa Rosa; his body was found by a country road outside that town, La Prensa reported. The Defence Ministry reported on 18 June that police and troops would permanently patrol sectors of the district of Chamelecón outside San Pedro Sula as part of an operation to have people return to homes local gangs had forced them to flee. The Minister Marlon Pascua and the National Police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla inspected on 18 June some of the 90 empty houses located in an area qualified as the frontier of territories controlled by the two main gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and M-18 or Pandilla 18La Prensa reported. The Minister urged residents to return to their homes and promised that troops would assure their security and help rebuild or repair houses. The operation was identified as part of the Operación Libertad, begun on 17 April and involving sending 1,500 troops to restore security to the crime-ridden district of San Pedro Sula.

Suspected gangsters, extortionists held around Colombia

Several suspects thought involved in organised crime and extortion were reported detained in Colombia in recent days, including six members of one of the main national gangs the Rastrojos, while authorities found an explosives cache thought to belong to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In San Martín in the department of Meta south of Bogotá, police detained a suspected member of Los Rastrojos sought by Interpol and likely to be charged with criminal conspiracy, the Ministry of Defence reported on 21 June. Police anti-extortion units (Gaula) arrested five other members of this gang in Soledad, a district next to the northern port of Barranquilla, suspected of coordinating extortion in that district and elsewhere in the department of Atlántico, Caracol radio reported on 21 June. Earlier President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the head of the anti-extortion police to work from Barranquilla, in an apparent response to a surge in extortions in parts of that district. This was apparently affecting bus drivers and stall owners in particular, the Presidential office reported on 19 June. General Humberto Guatibonza Carreño "is going to come and work here in Barranquilla and in Cartagena until this problem is totally resolved," the President was cited as saying after a security meeting in Barranquilla. In southern Bogotá police arrested six or more members of an extortion gang that worked around the capital's main wholesale market Corabastos, the Defence Ministry reported on 20 June. The gang reportedly forced "more than 100" street vendors and dairy products distributors to pay every day the equivalent of between 2.5 USD and five USD to avoid being robbed or beaten. In the department of Cauca in western Colombia, Police confiscated grenades and bullets found in the locality of Cerro Manuel in the district of Timbiquí, and thought to belong to Front 29 of the FARC, Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe reported on 20 June.