Mexican authorities said Thursday that some of the seven Guatemalans caught here had received training from their country's elite "Kaibil" forces, but are still investigating whether the men had drug links.
Earlier, authorities had acknowledged the men had military backgrounds, but said they doubted they were Kaibiles, an elite Guatemalan paratrooper unit known for its grueling jungle-survival training.
Guatemala, meanwhile, identified three of the men as deserters from the Guatemalan army, and a fourth as a discharged former soldier, and that all had taken the course. The seven men face charges of weapons trafficking after being caught near the Guatemalan border on Sept. 10 with six large-caliber rifles and 1,600 rounds of ammunition.
According to Mexican press reports, U.S. intelligence officials had alerted police along the U.S.-Mexico border in August that former Kaibiles might be operating in that area. Mexican officials apparently fear the Guatemalan paratroopers might add their military expertise to that of the Zetas, a gang of drug smugglers and hit men led by deserters from an elite Mexican army unit. The Zetas have been waging turf wars in northern border towns such as Nuevo Laredo, against other groups for control of lucrative smuggling routes into the United States.