WASHINGTON – Guatemala's top anti-drug investigator, his deputy and another senior official were indicted here Wednesday on charges they conspired to import and distribute cocaine in the United States, U.S. officials said.
Adan Castillo, chief of Guatemala's special anti-drug police force, Jorge Aguilar Garcia, Castillo's deputy, and Rubilio Orlando Palacios, another police official, were arrested Tuesday after arriving in the United States, officials said.
They were charged in a three-count indictment issued by a federal grand jury in Washington, after a four-month investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Guatemalan government.
"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," DEA Administrator Karen Tandy said. She announced the indictment along with Alice Fisher, an assistant attorney general.
U.S. officials say an estimated 75 percent of the cocaine that reaches American soil passes through Guatemala, in part because its government long did little to stop it.
President Oscar Berger took office in January 2004 promising to undo the damage of his predecessor, Alfonso Portillo, who caused Washington to drop Guatemala from its list of anti-narcotics allies. But he has made little progress.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Castillo said as many as 4,000 smugglers operate in Guatemala. They get cocaine shipments and move them to the Mexican border, where more powerful gangs take over, he said.
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.