The Government of Guatemala, through the Ministers of the Interior, David Napoleon Barrientos, and the Minister of Defense, Henri Jovani Reyes Chigua, has reported on the measures it is taking to prevent entry to gang members from El Salvador, after that country decreed an exception to fight the maras.
Among the points brought up by the authorities, it was reported that at least three Guatemalan families living in the border region with El Salvador have been threatened by gang members who demand that they rent their homes in the area, but so far the presence of the police and army has prevented them.
At the press conference, Presidential Social Communication Secretary Kevin López Oliva stated that preventive coordination measures by the Guatemalan Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense have developed a comprehensive tactical operational plan for border security which will be the coordination between the National Civil Police and the Army in the border region between Guatemala and El Salvador.
Minister Barrientos said that the plan was drawn up to protect the border with El Salvador under the exceptional regime that has been imposed in that country.
He pointed out that the government implemented checkpoints and strengthened security on the borders, and they are present on all official roads and blind steps that exist between the two countries.
He added that they, accompanied by the First Deputy Minister – Carlos Enrique Franco Orzoa – visited the place to verify the existence and effectiveness of the operations carried out in coordination with the Ministry of National Defense.
He stressed that the plan was conceived to be initially developed for a month, starting on March 28, and for this reason it will end on April 28.
Threats at the border
Minister Barrientos said that this plan had already given some results and that during the authorities’ patrols they learned that three Guatemalan families, living in the border region with El Salvador, had been threatened by gangsters from that country, so that they could, necessarily, rent their property or else it would be removed from buildings.
He noted that they have a presence and roads along a series of highways and roads in the border area and they visit the communities that live in that area and that is why they knew about the threats the citizens are receiving. Additionally, the number of police officers has been increased to a total of 500 in the area.
Barrientos noted that the police and the military remained in the area, making a presence and “giving the Guatemalan population the certainty that they will protect you by their authorities. This presence was, I repeat, very large and formidable, and created an atmosphere of calm and security in the area,” said Minister Barrientos.
When asked about their findings so far in the border security plan, Barrientos said that a person who had been fully identified as a gang member had been arrested, he responded to Eric Florentino Castro Vazquez, 41, who had been placed at the disposal of Salvadoran authorities.
In addition, 12 people who entered the country irregularly this week were handed over to the Directorate General of Immigration, as part of the ongoing immigration operations.
He pointed out that the arrest and extradition of this alleged member of the gang in Guatemalan territory meant that the Salvadoran gang members knew themselves that there was a cordon of Guatemalan power and would not allow it to pass.
Security for Salvadoran tourists
This plan to enhance security in the border area, in addition to preventing the entry of gang members, also includes providing security for tourists from that country who will arrive in Guatemala on Holy Week.
“The police and military presence in the area was so large that we believe that the security operation, the checkpoints and the border have succeeded so far. The visits are permanent and the supervision is going on and we will work to adjust our plan as the situation changes. So far we are very calm because the Salvadoran visitors to Guatemala in the coming weeks,” Barrientos said. They will do so in a calm and safe situation.”
He indicated that they have set up 20 checkpoints focusing on the border between El Salvador and Honduras to allow the expected tourist flow next week to be completely safe and also to prevent gangs from escaping from El Salvador and taking refuge in this country. .
The defense minister said that he maintains border control at the national level, and that in support of the Ministry of the Interior they have increased the military presence on the borders of both Honduras and El Salvador.
He said that in the border area with that country it was strengthened the most, because of the extraordinary order that had been installed in it.
He emphasized that the 3rd Infantry Brigade, located in the Gutiapa region, increased its forces by 200 soldiers directly on the border of Valle Nuevo and San Cristóbal, and also reinforced patrols in the border area with Honduras and El Salvador to avoid the entry of gangs through a large number of blind lanes in the area.
He stated that with the National Civil Police they are present throughout the day and night at the legal border points.
For Holy Week, the plan has already been prepared by the National Civil Police in which approximately 25,000 agents of the Foundation will participate throughout the national territory and on all roads in places where the camps of the National System of Prevention on Easter (Sinapress) are located.
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