Latin America: Guatemala's Top Narc Arrested in US 11/18/05

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The chief of Guatemala's anti-drug police, his deputy, and another senior official were indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, Wednesday on cocaine distribution conspiracy charges. Head narc Adan Castillo, his assistant Jorge Aguilar Garcia, and police official Rubilio Orlando Palacios were arrested Tuesday after arriving in the United States.

DEA head Karen Tandy personally announced the bust at a Washington press conference. "More than corrupting the public trust, these Guatemalan police officials have been Trojan horses for the very addiction and devastation that they were entrusted to prevent," she said.

Guatemala has been a major conduit for Colombian cocaine headed for the United States for years. The US dropped Guatemala from its list of anti-drug allies during the presidency of Alfonso Portillo because of his government's lack of cooperation. His successor, President Oscar Berger, who took office nearly two years ago, promised to do better, but has had little success.

Just last week, Castillo told the Associated Press he planned to resign next month, saying he felt like he was fighting a losing battle. Guatemala has as many as 4,000 drug smugglers who take advantage of the latest technologies, he said. "They have speedboats with up to four motors, modern technology, the most modern communication systems and contacts all over the American Isthmus," he said. "It's easy for them." The traffickers pay well for "information sources that are absolutely excellent," he said. "So they realize how the state is working. They monitor the state and the authorities and then do analysis on how to handle the drugs," Castillo explained.

"There are moments when you start to think you're swimming against the current," he said. "At those times, it's easy to think, 'If there aren't other institutions that can support me, if the government itself is weak in its responses, there's nothing left to do but leave it in God's hands.'"

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Issue #411 -- 11/18/05

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Editorial: Tell Me Why | Feature: Enhanced Mandatory Minimums Blocked in New Methamphetamine Bill | Feature: The 2005 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Long Beach, California | Feature: Deported for a Trace -- Farid's Tale | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Sports: Under Congressional Pressure, Major League Baseball, Union Agree on Drug Testing Policy | Medical Marijuana: Two Michigan Towns Pass Ordinances -- Officials Balk | Search and Seizure: Supreme Court Hears Search Case Where Wife Consented but Husband Refused | Latin America: Guatemala's Top Narc Arrested in US | Europe: Sativex Coming to England, Spain | Asia: Korean Actress Who Challenged Marijuana Law Sentenced to Prison | Web Scan: In These Times, Alternet on Sembler and Straight, New SSDP Blog | Weekly: This Week in History | Announcement: Senlis Council Seeking Research Proposals on Afghani Opium Licensing Schemes | Job Opportunities: Webmasters for MPP in DC, CRCM in Nevada | Internship Opportunity: Criminal Justice Policy Foundation | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar |

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