Militias and gangs are common across Central and South America. Image via Cambio.com
A group of U.S. and Guatemalan archeologists have found themselves surrounded by flames in the depths of the Guatemalan jungle, as part of a warning attack from drug trafficking jungle gangs.
The group had entered the Laguna del Tigre Park, an area comprised of 800,000 acres of dense forest and wildlife, unaware that they had set foot in an area ridden with networks of illegal residents and drug gangs.
Whilst on the brink of exploring an ancient Mayan City, they found themselves having to fight a two week battle against the forest fires using machetes and water. “We were able to bring some of the fires under control but the invaders just lit them up again. The rains have helped but there is still a threat,” said Mariela Lopez, a director of the forest protection service for the northern Peten department.
Cocaine bust. Image via Day Life
The site known as La Corona is located in the Peten region of Northern Guatemala and has become a favourite route for drug smugglers supplying cocaine to U.S. citizens through the porous Mexican border. The Archeologists probably experienced the slash and burn tactics used by traffickers in order to clear the forest floor, for landing drug-filled aircraft. However, the fires may have had other purposes, as one spokesman suggests: “At our archaeological base camp we have guards and that creates a problem for these people. That kind of permanent presence could detect what they are doing,” Tomas Barrientos, the Guatemalan head of the La Corona project, told Reuters by telephone.
From Barrientos’ quote one can identify that the main problem seems to be the proximity of the architects’ and gang-members’ activities in the area and their alien interests. However, one thing is certain: smuggling is definitely not new to the area; it was the stolen sculptures and relics from this Mayan site, looted in the 1960’s that sparked the decades of searching for La Corona Site. In a resurgence of interests, it seems as if the old smugglers have made problems for the new traffickers.
Anti Drug Police. Image via Day Life
We’ll even throw in a free album.