Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Guatemala's Kaibiles: A Notorious Commando Unit Wrapped Up in Central America's Drug War

An aerial view of the site of a massacre at a local ranch in the hamlet Caserio La Bomba, in La Libertad, northern Guatemala, Sunday May 15, 2011. (Photo: Nuestro Diario - AP)

TIME/Global Spin

In Guatemala's northern Petén department, May 14, 2011, felt a lot like December 6, 1982. In May, on the Los Cocos ranch near La Libertad, 27 campesinos were slaughtered and decapitated by henchmen of a bloodthirsty Mexican drug cartel, the Zetas – whose ranks include former Guatemalan army commandos known as Los Kaibiles.

That's why, for Guatemalans, the Los Cocos massacre was all too reminiscent of another 29 years ago, when witnesses say Kaibil special forces murdered 251 people in Dos Erres, also near La Libertad. They wiped out virtually the entire village, including small children, whose heads were smashed, in what ranks among the worst butchery of Guatemala's 36-year-long civil war.

So it was welcome news this week when the U.S. extradited back to Guatemala a leading member of the Kaibil squad accused of the 1982 massacre, Pedro Pimentel, 54. Pimentel, one of four former Kaibiles arrested in the U.S. and Canada last year, had spent most of the past two decades living a secret life in California as a factory worker. Now Guatemalan human rights leaders hope he and other Kaibiles will finally be brought to justice. “This is a chance for Guatemala's fragile judicial system to show that it's standing up to these kinds of atrocities for once,” attorney Edgar Pérez, who represents Dos Erres survivors and victims' families, tells me. “It's the only way to make sure massacres like these aren't repeated.”

But Guatemalans like Pérez are all too aware that their Kaibil terror is still alive. The army unit itself, surprisingly, is still intact. Its commandos, named for a 16th-century Maya warrior who stood up to the Spanish conquistadors, are trained to be especially efficient killing machines who fight under extreme conditions like jungle warfare. In fact, the Kaibiles (pronounced kie-BEE-les) have trained Mexican commandos like the GAFE, or Airborne Special Forces Group – and that link has come back to haunt both Mexico and Guatemala.

That's because in the late 1990s an especially vicious band of GAFE commandos, the Zetas, went over to the dark side and became hired enforcers for one of Mexico's largest drug mafias, the Gulf Cartel. The Zetas eventually became their own cartel and, in turn, recruited some of their former Kaibil instructors. Ex-Kaibiles, say Guatemalan authorities, headed up the May 14 Los Cocos massacre, which began that evening and lasted until almost dawn the next day.

The Kaibiles are largely responsible for introducing the ghastly drug-war practices of severing rivals' heads, including the 10 found outside Mexico City just last weekend, dismembering their bodies or slowly suffocating them to death. That's little surprise, given how brutal Kaibil training has been since the unit was founded in the 1970s: members are forced to kill animals, even bite the heads off chickens to prove their ferocity, and perform field surgery on themselves, such as bullet extraction. They were the principal instruments of the Guatemalan military government's “scorched earth” campaign of the 1980s against leftist guerrillas and communities suspected of backing them.

That makes it all the more troubling, as Mexico's drug cartels push into Central America, that not just former but current Kaibiles are defecting to more lucrative service under the Zetas. It's bad enough that so many heavy weapons are being smuggled from the U.S. into Mexican mafias' hands; but as Kaibiles become more involved in the narco-mayhem, authorities believe Guatemalan military hardware is arriving across Mexico's southern border as well. Mexican police have arrested Kaibiles smuggling guns, and Guatemalan cops have seized Zeta bullets and grenades that were traced back to the Guatemalan army. They've also found heavily armed Zeta training camps inside Guatemala for Kaibil deserters.

For Guatemalans, that's simply a reminder that the dictator horror they suffered a generation ago has simply been replaced by drug-cartel horror. It has gotten so bad, in fact, that U.S. military officials now call the northern Central America triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, a pocket with one of the world's highest murder rates, the most dangerous zone in the world outside Afghanistan and Iraq. “That's why the Guatemalan military shouldn't even have special forces anymore,” Pérez argues. “The state is too weak, and the commandos too uncontrollable, to keep risking this kind of organized crime infiltration.”

Still, bringing to justice alleged murderers like Pimentel, who was a Kaibil officer and instructor in the 1980s – and who despite the Dos Erres massacre was invited to be an instructor at the U.S. military-run School of the Americas, then in Panama – could help to make Guatemala a less sinister place. Witnesses also accuse Pimentel of raping girls and women during the three days of Dos Erres atrocities, in which many villagers were rounded up, shot and dumped in a well.

Some 200,000 people were killed in Guatemala's civil war, which didn't end until 1996. The challenge now is to keep thugs like the Kaibiles-turned-narcos from killing thousands more.


  1. Who created and trained the kaibiles? CIA and American military advisors at the service of American industrial farms who felt their holdings in Guatemala were threatened by a popularly supported socialist movement. We hear and hear on the US media of brutality of Mexican cartels and how "our" safety is compromised by them. Yet the US created the Kaibiles/Zetas and continues to arm them thru the nonregulation of weapons. But hey we need to have our bananas with cornflakes.

  2. Wasn't La Barbie the one who introduced beheadings into the Mexican narco underworld? I remember the first beheadings happening in the state of Quinata Roo and Nuevo Laredo back then.

  3. My brother had told me about the "kaibiles" they have been around for a long time and hired by drug cartels to do what they do best, kill and torture without regard to age or sex..even babies...they are also training zetas. When my brother told me about them, I just couldn't remember the name they go by, and when he said they were central american, I thought he was just saying that to take some heat away from the Mexican sicarios, but really, to me they are one in the same.

    I bet the camp found which belonged to the Caballeros Templarios is one where Kaibiles were a part of training them. They train in extrenuating and difficult places in order to be able to withstand any environmental inclemmency, and so they can hide out in the jungles or less transitted places...

    This I heard.

  4. Pedro Pimentel was an illegal alien.

  5. Damn I never knew just how evil the USA is until I started reading some of these posts,such brilliant insight!!

  6. ripped fetuses from pregnant women?!omg...i hope this never happens again.

  7. LOL@anon 12:38PM...this seems to be the most important thing to anon12:38...did he/she not hear or read anything on this post? that he/she makes the fact that he was an illegal alien so important, much more than where his training came from? ha! seriously, that's what's wrong with some people, they give priority and importance to less meaningful facts....if ALL illegal aliens were kaibiles i guess you know how it would all be in the USA...

  8. @ 11:48
    WRONG!!!! Beheadings in mexico go back to the 80's maybe even the 70's. I remember reading about them in the newspapers in Matatmoros especially Alarma. This is not a new phenomenon. It is just more common now.

  9. This is a good article for all you 2nd amendment gun haters that are constantly blaming the law abiding gun owners for the greed and disgusting actions of " mexican people" against other mexican people(the cartels). You sick freaks have blamed us long enough, The zetas have ALWAYS had connections to rifles from south america. If they get their cocaine from there what makes you morons tHink they weren't getting their weapons from there...oh, because you swallowed some #@%! about 90% of guns coming from the u.s, That toilet paper propaganda piece has been thoroughally debunked as garbage spewed out to keep my and other gun owning law abiders tax money going into your degenerate country for this charade called " war on drugs". The ONLY WAR I SEE IS THE UNLAWFUL ACTIONS OF ATF, CIA, AND DOJ TO BREAK THE LAW AND CAUSE THE DEATH OF INNOCENT PEOPLE. THE WAR IS TO STRIP ME OF MY GOD GIVEN FREEDOMS, AND THATS TO KEEP YOUR BONY RAPIST HANDS OFF MY WIFE, KIDS, HOME, MONEY, GUNS AND WHATEVER ELSE I OWN. YOU DONT OWN US WE OWN YOU, YOU WORTHLESS PILE OF YOUR MOMMA. Most of the guns that did come from the U.S weren't smuggled you stupid idiots, they were "sent" by the DEA and ATF. suck on that fact for a while you braindead #%&*'s. Can you think for yourself? You should try it for once, instead of your idiot puppeteers telling you how to think. HERE'S ANOTHER FACT TO SWALLOW ESTUPIDOS, If the mexican people were armed they wouldn't be having this problem on this level period. THIS IS WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU LET YOUR GOVERNMENT STRIP YOU OF EVEN YOUR OWN ABILITY TO PROTECT YOURSELF,

  10. @anon 1:41PM

    Who cares where they got their training. You think commando training taught them how to kill women and children? You don't need military training to do that. Your average corrupt Guatemalan police officer is more than capable.

    If you don't see the illegal alien connection then you are dense. Companies haven't been checking up on their employees to ensure they are here legally. That is why this man was able to start a new life in California. My 1st job 30 years ago required a birth certificate or certified immigration documentation/res alien card, valid ss card, DL/passport.

    When we ignore the law these types of things are allowed to happen. Criminals from SA can come to the USA and start a new life.

  11. the two incidentslook familar? Seriously? most media sources already ran with this story in May. delayed reporting Mr. Tim

  12. If you dont like guns you dont have to have one. I'll keep mine

  13. July 17, 2011 4:34 PM , take your meds Pappy.!

  14. Well put! The only word I would have added is "sub-human" before coward

  15. Oops! I don't believe it??? BB let an article sneak in that actually hints that there is a connection between the previous wars of US militarism in Central America and the current US military interventionism in Mexico via their PAN and PRI allies. What will we see next?! BB putting in a link with antiwar-com? Miracles never cease to happen!

  16. the law is ignored only when it is convenient to US economy.
    all of the people working illegally are not all kaibiles...just like all "Americans" are not all of good moral character either. They're just lucky they got here before all the other immigrants.

  17. Bunch of fucking mayan savages. Got some training so now they can do something besides dig ditches and make babies. Maybe one good thing to come out of this is the US will be careful about who they train - nah, probably not. US didn't learn shit from Vietnam.

    Still waiting for Mexicans to take back their country. Making too much money I think. More Mexicans employed and making money off the drug trade and murder, extortion, kidnapping than ever before. Why change?

  18. By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau

    July 17, 2011
    Reporting from Washington— Congressional investigators probing the controversial "Fast and Furious" anti-gun-trafficking operation on the border with Mexico believe at least six Mexican drug cartel figures involved in gun smuggling also were paid FBI informants, officials said Saturday.

    The investigators have asked the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration for details about the alleged informants, as well as why agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran the Fast and Furious operation, were not told about them.

    More federal agencies implicated in gun-trafficking controversy
    U.S. to require more gun-buyer information in border states
    Republicans seek documents related to Fast and Furious gun scandal
    The development raises further doubts about the now-shuttered program, which was created in November 2009 in an effort to track guns across the border and unravel the cartels' gun smuggling networks. The gun tracing largely failed, however, and hundreds of weapons purchased in U.S. shops later were found at crime scenes in Mexico.

    The scandal has angered Mexican officials and some members of Congress. Investigators say nearly 2,500 guns were allowed to flow illegally into Mexico under the ATF program, fueling the drug violence ravaging that country and leading to the shooting death of a U.S. border agent.

    In a letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, the investigators asked why U.S. taxpayers' money apparently was paid to Mexican cartel members who have terrorized the border region for years in their efforts to smuggle drugs into this country, and to ship U.S. firearms into Mexico.

    "We have learned of the possible involvement of paid FBI informants in Operation Fast and Furious," wrote Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The two have been the leading congressional critics of the program.

    "At least one individual who is allegedly an FBI informant might have been in communication with, and was perhaps even conspiring with, at least one suspect whom ATF was monitoring," they wrote.

    The FBI and DEA did not tell the ATF about the alleged informants. The ATF and congressional investigators learned later that those agencies apparently were paying cartel members whom the ATF wanted to arrest.

    full article here:,0,6972222.story

  19. @ July17, 2011 7:50 p.m.

    Your racist comments are all Kaibiles are a "Bunch of fucking mayan savages. Got some training so now they can do something besides dig ditches and make babies." And then go on to talk smack about Mexicans...what the f...are you you doing here? Does it make you feel superior to generalize this way? Like our own U.S. Soldiers are all angels that have never abused their positions or training to commit atrocities...must be nice not to live in a glass house...right? Jackass...

  20. @ 7:50 can we all agree that 7:50 is a mouth breather, and probably only knows about the mayans because he saw apocalypto.

  21. Brito is back... Yeap... How was Monterrey?

  22. NRA & ATF are the ones supplying the weapons to the bad guys! Wake up America!!!

  23. jajaja..i haven't even made it to murder city yet...i was at my the net elec...well a little solar running water...except the to can the produce of 170 tomato plants afore i go to messico..but soon ...i will be posting from Monterrey

    yeap... kaibiles..kill billys...yeah we need to train more murderous assholes in other countrys...fruits of the Monroe doctrine?...

    the war mongering money men have just about ruined our country and the rest of the world as well...just exactly why do we as American citizens allow our army, blood and treasure to be expended all around the world ..killing shoeless,hungry people ....propping up repressive ,exploitative dictatorships..etc....pero..that is another rant altogether

    ....i have a cousin who lives in Greece...and has been a banker for the last 15 years ...we were talking about Mexico...she said that before Greece joined , or as she put it was inducted into the EU...Greece had a grass roots cash economy...most people paid cash ...not much private after the easy credit boys have had their way....Greece is broke ...and in turmoil

    we both see Mexico headed down the same path...the current situation is being used as an excuse for the NWO crew to move in and restore order...and offer easy credit to Mexico to reconstruct and expand their economy....make way North American Union...who knows...pero yo huela ratas behind all the bullshit going on..resulting in massive foreign debt...and massive private debt...the little grass roots Mexican cash economy regulated, taxed, and other wise put out of business..Mexico being controlled like an unruly child...but that si another rant as well

  24. I like this site. Another great site is the
    fulanofilesblog and webpage. Get as much info as you can and be safe.

  25. the americans have a lot to ans for..they are up to their necks in a lot of this shit

  26. Blame the U.S. all you want fools..but like anything else in are responsible for your own actions! Nobody is forcing "third world" Latin Americans to kill each other, it's nothing more than pure greed! Last I heard, no branch of the U.S. Military incorporates the killing of animals with their bare hands, as a form of dedication to brutality. That is purely a Guatemalan issue. There is a reason why they are called "Third world" countries...think about it!

  27. @July 18, 7:52AM

    "the americans have a lot to ans for..they are up to their necks in a lot of this shit"

    Really? What about the DTO's, who are actually committing all of these crimes? Are they not to blame or in your simple's easier to blame others for your problems! Wise up fool..let Mexico and the other countries involved here take care of their country's problems..stop relying on and blaming the U.S. because no one cares!

  28. The LA Times hasn't been worth shit since Sam Zell bought it. Masters of the obvious. I think we had all of this figured out, at least on BB. It's good to see it printed in a main-stream newspaper though. The more people that know about this the better.

    @10:13 Well why do you think more Mexican's have not taken action against the narcos and criminals that have ruined their country? It's not because of a lack of weapons to fight back with.

    Remember the shopkeeper in Juarez that told the extortionist punks he would have their money the next day. When they returned he shot them dead as they came through the door.

    What are kaibiles doing for their country? And it's not a matter of doing nothing. If you're in the army you serve your country. They have joined the criminals. If you have better information let's hear it.

    Because US soldiers have committed crimes does not make it ok for other countries soldiers to commit crimes so you you can stuff that argument. It doesn't work. A bad guy is a bad guy.

    Who's going to throw rocks at my house? You? No, you'll just call names.

  29. Nothing new?? mmmm, seems that the narcos took the day off

  30. The term Third World
    arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO (which along with its allies represented the First World), or communism and the Soviet Union

    Where does it imply to you inbred Gringos that a 3rd world nation is a poor country?

  31. @ 3:47 Well the American(mostly white Americans) are supplying the drug cartels with billions of dollars every year, how about the white Americans that sell most of the guns the drug cartels use? It isn't Mexico's fault the US is full of drug addicting(the most drug addicts per capita in the world and most drug addicts combined), how about the US banks wiring illegal money to Mexico via American "casas de cambio"? He is correct, the USA has a lot to answer to victims of this war.

  32. no they haven't..i just talked to friend in Monterrey who got caught up in a balacera this morning ..he had to turn around and go to work another was over by the tech...he said it lasted 30 minutes or so

  33. I cannot believe there are people actually trying to put our actions in Central America in 1982 into your pitiful attempt at a country. When does Mexicans stand up for themselves? When do they create jobs for there people , when do they build infrastructure for there business. Mexico always pointing the finger its not my fault sound like children.

  34. @ brito
    Espera.... Escuha... Balecera

  35. @July 18, 5:38PM,

    Bravo, for your ability to "Google" the term "third world", however, you chose to "pick" the definition that best fits your argument! Try reading a little more into the definition because for one it has evolved since its "cold war" inception. Also, be careful with regards to using the term "inbred" because I'll wager in your family, inbreeding can be found extensively.

  36. @July 16, 6:36PM,

    Dude shut up, your comment makes absolutely no sense! It's obvious your a racist piece of shit with no significant source of intelligence. Your a "Band wagon" type, who is full of excuses and blames others for your own personal shortcomings.

    For one, Mexico has a large population of drug addicts, where personal drug use consumption is legal. Two, what is your excuse for Mexicans killing Mexicans? Are you suggesting "White Americans" have some kind of mind control over Mexicans and are forcing them to kill each other...sounds ridiculous right! Much like your above mentioned comment..get a life and educate yourself, you can't blame your problems on the "white people" forever!

  37. Brito has a total tendency to exaggerate and embellish with these stories of his supposed encounters with 'balaceras'. My wife and kid have been visiting in a poor neighborhood in Monterrey now for 6 weeks and have yet to hear any gunfire being shot off. Brito, on the other hand, seems to report that Monterrey has become Tombstone, AR with pistoleros everywhere.... lol... and he can hardly be heard over the constant gun battles taking place there so he says. Take all his 'reports' with a grain of salt I would suggest.

  38. @Ardent,

    I'm glad to hear your wife and child are doing fine on their visit to Monterrey, however, Monterrey is a big city and perhaps the violence Brito is talking about occurred in a part of the city your family is not near or maybe your wife isn't telling you what's really going on because she doesn't want you to worry. Point being, you can't argue the fact there has been a surge of narco violence occurring in Mexico for a number of years. Again, we shouldn't down play what's going on in Mexico just because the violence has not directly affected us.

  39. @ 9:52

    I agree...
    Ardent come on you are talking like a crazy man, you are smarter than that, you know Mty is a huge place and there is violence everyday, because your two eyes misses it does not mean it does not exist. that's a fact.

    Mty is the new Juarez...

  40. @ brito to be fair Not all of the above links mentioned are from Monterrey. Some of them are from Nuevo León state.

    Also if ardent is a fake suburbanite, then what does that make you? A fake regiomontano?; A pacifist?; a Lebanese American?

  41. i never claimed to be a regio..not one time..i do love the damned nasty /beautiful/dangerous /fun as all hell place though ...

    i have never lived in a suburb...

    i did neglect to say the first three were from Santiago..

    but it is just down the road..the rest are from the greater Monterrey met area..i didn't even include the Sabino G massacree

    that in itself should be enough to ring the crazy danger bell

    point being..i am not in the least "embellishing " the story..i wish like all hell it was safer...

    i used to talk about how safe it was ..and i was all over the place ..a lot of the time on a bicycle...glad i got to do it when i had a chance

    jajaj yeap..i guess i am some sort of a pacifist..i believe in leaving everyone alone..especially other countrys...but if i am seriously threatened enough to scare me...i do believe in beating them into the ground..

    yeap if the paz don't work, then the fist..jajaj yeap pazifist

    hmmm Lebanese American..not really my family left so long ago...there is not really any ethnic identity left...just a little village there with the surname.. i am just an American mongrel...jajajaaaj

    ard just has a hardy for me 'cause he is a house hippie..and i know more about his crap rap bullshit pap than he does

  42. @ little pito

    ¡Qué mentiroso eres! De todo lo que leido que has escrito, intentas pintarte como regio, afortunadamente no lo eres. Eres una vergüenza a todos los que sí somos de la sultana del norte. Solamente por haberte casado con una regia no significa que eres experto en dichos asuntos. De hecho me da risa las bobadas que escribes. Háznos todo el favor; Mejor ya no opines de tu " Tierra natal" . Ah, y otra cosa, aprende a deletrear.


  43. Brito, I have Lebanese in my family background, too. Now don't that make you just want to go shit a brick? The fact that you seem to have Lebanese Arab blood remotely in your own background hardly excuses any of your anti-Jewish diatribes though. You can be pro Palestinian without being an anti Jewish lout.

    And what the hell is in your head where you would accuse somebody of being a 'house hippie' who supposedly spends all his time in Starbucks? Last I noticed, hippies hate Starbucks. Most of what you say is just completely off the wall just like this nonsense about me of yours certainly is.

    As to where my family is staying in the Monterrey area? Well they happen to be staying just a couple blocks away from where a policeman was dumped in front of a Catholic Church just a month a go, body in two parts. No, Monterrey is not all nice and totally quiet, but neither is it a war zone as Brito would have all of us believe with his continual sermons on the mount about such. Most Americans have all the wrong beliefs about Mexico already and Brito just feeds them pap non stop! Mexico is not in total meltdown as the Brito NorteAmericanos of the world would have us all believe. Guatemala's still on the map, too. No thanks to the US of A.

  44. @ tuchi

    ¡A güebo ca'on! Es la neta del planeta.

  45. @ brito actually Greece is more on par with the US in terms of debt per citizen. Google it

  46. Hahahahahaha @ Tuchi 4:30 July 19th

    Hey Brito do u want me to translate that for ya buddy?

    Or you going to have your friends in monterrey do it for you?


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;