Guatemalan case – what does it mean?

A number of people have already blogged about this:
Check out this AP article by Mark Sherman:

WASHINGTON — Guatemala’s top anti-drug investigators have been arrested on charges they conspired to import and distribute cocaine in the United States after being lured to America for what they thought was training on fighting drug traffickers.

A three-count indictment issued Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Washington names Adan Castillo, chief of Guatemala’s special anti-drug police force, who has lamented the slow pace of progress in combating cocaine smugglers in Guatemala. Also indicted were Jorge Aguilar Garcia, Castillo’s deputy, and Rubilio Orlando Palacios, another police official.

They were arrested Tuesday after arriving in the United States for Drug Enforcement Administration training on stopping drug trafficking in ports, Guatemala’s interior minister and two U.S. law enforcement officials said. In reality, the DEA had been investigating the men for four months with the help of the Guatemalan government.

The first reaction I have is a good one and matches the general thinking… See, another example of how the drug war corrupts. Here’s a top drug official in Guatemala who is corrupted by drug profits. At least we caught him and his deputies…
And then my years of watching the drug warriors and what they’ll do kicks in, and I look more skeptically (some may say with more paranoia).
What more does it say about Castillo?

In a recent interview with The Associated Press… Castillo said he was frustrated with the inability to stop the smuggling and was planning to leave his post in December, after just six months.

“There are moments when you start to think you’re swimming against the current,” he said.

But wait! Look at a different AP article written by Juan Carlos Llorca:

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Castillo said he was ready to quit after just six months in his post because he was frustrated with a losing battle against drug smugglers. He said traffickers were aided by corrupt officials at all levels of the government.

“There are moments when you start to think you’re swimming against the current,” he said. [emphasis added]

Notice the difference? (I wonder why Mark left out that critical line?) Now it makes you start to think. And all three are pleading innocent.
“…corrupt officials at all levels of government”? Sounds familiar. So what was the Guatemalan government doing?
In the NY Times:

In Guatemala City, Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann said that the government had cooperated fully with the arrests and had even helped organize the trip that sent the drug agents to Washington.

They had corrupt drug officials and sent them here to be arrested? They wouldn’t want to arrest their own officials, huh?
Back to the Llorca article:

[Guatemalan President Oscar Berger] pledged to renew anti-trafficking programs, saying he would ask the country’s legislature to approve a three-year extension in a joint anti-drug program with the United States known as the Maya-Jaguar program.

The plan allows the United States to send soldiers and military advisers to this country a few days out of every year for training of Guatemalan police and soldiers.

Washington has long run such training programs in Mexico and Central American as part of the regional “Open Skies” anti-drug program.

Oh, yes. That makes the DEA very happy.
I don’t know what the story is here. But there’s a whole lot that smells bad.
Update: Nice to see I’m not alone. Eric in one of my email discussion groups had similar questions.

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