Translated and rewritten from a Spanish language Associated Press wire report in Guatemala.
Los Zetas criminal organization recruits the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) AKA Las Maras, gang members for training in paramilitary camps in Guatemala, according to Guatemalan authorities.
Los Zetas use their Las Maras recruits in the Guatemalan capital to distract actions and resources of the authorities in order to ensure the control of rural land corridors used for the smuggling of narcotics. Las Maras also provide intelligence support through their organization according to Stuart Velasco, chief coordinator of the task forces of the Ministry of Interior.
Las Maras use their training to improve their criminal operations and to make more money. Perquisites include access to military training, high-powered weapons and drugs for sale or own consumption, he added.
"In this nexus with Los Zetas, MS-13 is more capable of articulation, strategy and capacity for maneuver," said Velasco.
"According to our intelligence sources, Los Zetas are looking to recruit 5,000 gang members. The strategy is to concentrate the MS-13 chaos in the cities to remain drug free corridors inside the country."
By expanding its operations to Guatemala, the first base of Los Zetas was to recruit soldiers in the country, said Velasco.
He said that the recruitment of Kaibiles, or Guatemalan special forces trained in counterinsurgency operations began in the province of Peten.
"There is a Kaibiles school in Petan, and there are many who live in that area, so, with what little they earn, it was difficult for Los Zetas to bribe them with money. Additionally, Los Zetas needed the knowledge and training of the Guatemalans to operate in Guatemala" he said.
"The most important and dangerous are Los Zetas because not only do they engage in drug trafficking, they also take control of the criminal structure and completely take over all kinds of activities," said Velasco, who is coordinating police operations against criminal groups in the country.
"They know that the economic benefit is large and that Los Zetas, being a foreign group, need their networks to increase their operational level in Guatemala."
The initial information on the alliance between Las Maras and Los Zetas came after the arrest of 50 people linked to the slaughter occurred in a cattle farm of Petén, on 14 May last year that left 27 dead, 25 of them beheaded.
Velasco stressed that despite the close links between the MS-13 gangs, ideological indoctrination that Los Zetas provides convinces them that if they get into it, Los Zetas can control all criminal activities.
"Obviously they are loyal to their gang members and leaders have to adopt the same mechanisms the Los Zetas have, to ensure the work of their new recruits,'' he said.
By moving to a second phase, integrating the MS-13 gang members, Los Zetas are making a difference within the family structure of gangs, who arrived in Guatemala in the 1990s when the United States accelerated deportations of criminals.
Miguel Angel Galvez, judge of drug trafficking, said that the links are increasingly evident in the cases that are processed.
"Los Zetas are a group like the Las Maras and seize complete control (when captured) always carry a notebook where are listed all the people they are paid and what their roles are starting with mayors, judges and reaching the local criminals,'' said Galvez.
Scott Stewart, an analyst Stratfor intelligence company and a former diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, said that gangs are increasingly willing to work with Los Zetas and the economic power of the criminal organization.
"Therefore, there is an incentive to belong to the organization or risk going out of business completely," he said.
The President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, reported the May 26, 2010, organized crime groups like Los Zetas, were trying to break into Honduras and El Salvador.