The Americas

Guatemala accuses 14 of forcing farmers to sell their land

Guatemalan prosecutors have arrested 14 people who allegedly forced poor farmers to sell their land at cut-rate prices.

At least 28 farms were "bought" by gangsters who sometimes forced farmers to go to land offices at gunpoint. The gang later resold the land at market prices and pocketed the difference.

The farmers had received the land from the government as part of the 1996 peace accords that put an end to a 36-year civil war.

The U.N. commission against impunity in Guatemala says the gang used force, threats and deceit to get the land. The sales were registered by land office employees even though there were restrictions on such transfers.