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06GUATEMALA1173 2006-06-15 17:41:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Guatemala
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1. (SBU) Summary: A heavily armed group of 40 men ambushed
a joint patrol of Guatemalan army, police and park rangers.
They wounded two men and are, as of noon June 15, still
holding hostage three others in northwestern corner of the
Peten. End summary.

2. (SBU) A 40-man joint patrol of the Guatemalan
environmental and forest protection agency (CONAP),
Guatemalan Army, and Guatemalan National Civilian Police
(PNC) was ambushed at noon on June 14 in the Sierra del
Lacandon National Park in northwestern Guatemala near the
Guatemala-Mexico border. The patrol had entered the area in
response to a report of "environmental depredation." The
attackers, a heavily-armed group of about 40 men, wounded the
Captain in charge of the 22 military members of the patrol as
well as one of the six agents of the PNC's Natural Resource
Protection Unit (DIPRONA). The attackers held the two
wounded men hostage for two hours before exchanging them for
three of the CONAP rangers and the PNC Inspector in charge of
the DIPRONA contingent. Two of the CONAP rangers and the PNC
Inspector continue to be held hostage.

3. (SBU) A GOG delegation that includes the Governor of the
Peten and the Brigadier General in Commander of the Army's
First Brigade in Flores will fly up to the area as soon as
the weather clears. Weather conditions prevented medevac of
the two casualties by helicopter. Instead they were taken by
boat on the Usumacinta River to an army post in Bethel,
approximately 35 miles to the southeast of the ambush site of
Arroyo Macabilero.

4. (SBU) Comment: Military sources tell us that the
attackers appear to be engaged in illegal logging but may
also be one of the groups providing ground support to
clandestine drug flights. Both the Sierra del Lacandon
National Park and its more well-known northern counterpart
the Laguna del Tigre National Park are threatened by
squatters, illegal loggers and drug traffickers. These
groups are difficult to distinguish as they overlap and all
tend to carry AK-47s. Joint patrols are not unusual. The
Army-run Interagency Task Force North (ITFN) in the Peten
works very closely with CONAP and also enjoys good
cooperation from the Police DIPRONA agents assigned to work
under its direction.