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Drug Cartel Threatens Guatemalans

Los Zetas warn of violence against civilians if the government continues to pursue the cartel.

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Authorities remove a Zetas banner praising
Molina's drug legalization proposal. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

03/22/12

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An ominous banner hung above a school in the city of Petén, Guatemala, threatening drastic and violent action by the Los Zetas drug cartel if authorities continued to pursue them: "To all civil and military authorities and the population in general stop persecution of the race or we will start killing. We will toss grenades into discos and shopping centers in Petén ... because this is 'Z' territory we don't want a war against the government this is a warning. Z200." The messages—written on bed sheets—are signed by Zeta 200, the head of the cartel, which is based in Mexico. Petén Gov. Henry Amezquita said the threat was "a reprisal" for Monday's arrest of Zetas capo Gustavo Colindres. Just eight days earlier, the Zetas hung banners with a less pointed message supporting President Otto Pérez Molina's drug legalization proposal: "Pérez and (Vice President Roxana) Baldetti, go through with legalizing drugs, and we support fighting the [youth gangs] ... Zeta 200" and "A thousand thanks general Otto Pérez and Roxana Baldetti for legalizing drugs ... Zeta 200." Guatemalan authorities are mindful of the Zetas' large presence throughout the country—the cartel now controls several profitable territories in Latin America—and their capability for severe violence, blaming the Zetas for the May 2011 massacre of 27 peasants at a ranch in Petén province.

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