Monday, March 07, 2005

Central America vows force to fight gangs, terror

Our government may refuse to deal with this--but at least these Central American countries are willing

Source: Reuters

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, March 3 (Reuters) - Five Central American nations vowed on Thursday to create a joint "rapid force" to confront terrorist threats, drug traffickers and violent youth gangs.

The group will include troops, police, prosecutors and judges from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica in a bid to clamp down on crime across the region and to imprison criminals quickly.

The five nations drew up and approved the plan at a meeting of government ministers in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

"We agreed to form this 'rapid force' to confront narcoterrorism and other emerging threats, like the youth gangs that operate in almost all the countries of the region, including Mexico," Honduran Defense Minister Federico Breve told Reuters.

"The idea is to have a rapid force in each country, but one which can react together in the event of regional situations," Breve said.

U.S. security officials are concerned terrorists could try to cut deals with the drug traffickers or street gangs that operate in Central America as part of a planned attack on the United States.

Colombian cocaine heading for the United States is often routed through Central America, which was torn apart by civil wars in the 1980s.

Violent youth gangs, known as "maras," operate in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and, more recently, Mexico. They have their roots in Hispanic gangs in Los Angeles and are effectively at war with some Central American governments.
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