Last Saturday a bus of 15 Nicaraguan merchants and one Dutch national were taken hostage, shot, and then burned inside their bus in Zacapa, Guatemala, 125 miles from the Salvadoran border. The merchants traveled weekly to Guatemala for goods, but on this journey they were separated from their caravan after their bus had broken down. One of the deceased victims called a family member prior to the violence, describing a border patrol vehicle that had detained the bus.The Human Rights Ombudsman of Guatemala, Sergio Morales has called for both El Salvador and Guatemala to investigate the border patrols on duty that night.
A report by the US DEA and the Guatemalan Anti-narcotic department pointed to the Golfo cartel of Guatemala and members of the Mexican narco-assasin group Los Zetas as the culprits. The burned bus revealed empty hidden compartments built into the floor, and the report described the Golfo’s planned robbery of 3 tons of cocaine from a bus on the Salvadoran border. When the detained bus failed to hold any drugs, the group of 15 armed men killed passengers and abandoned the charred bus on the territory of a rival cartel in Zacapa.
The Golfo cartel was also linked to the assassination of the three PARLECEN leaders in 2006. The BMW that bought the gasoline to burn the Salvadoran legislators in their own vehicle belonged to the Golfo’s leader Jorge Mario ‘El Gordo’ Paredes. Other reports have found evidence of Los Zetas training camps in the isolated Guatemalan departments of Quiche, Alta Verapaz and Peten. Another drug related massacre led by Los Zetas leader Daniel ‘el Cachetes (cheeks)’ Pérez Rojas occured in Zacapa on March 25 of this year; 11 people were killed.