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"Los Zetas" gang allegedly behind threatening messages directed at the press

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - The "Los Zetas" criminal group is believed to be behind threatening messages directed at the press and distributed in the departments of Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, Baja Verapaz and in Poptún, Petén.

According to local media reports, one of the messages, which was distributed on 21 May 2011 in the city of Quetzaltenango, western Guatemala, reads, "the press should stop carrying on the way it has been or else the war will be with you" and adds, "the one who issues the warning is not a traitor."

The suspects were arrested by officers of the National Police and the Public Prosecutor's Office. The authorities also seized other threatening banners which name Otto Salguero, an alleged drug trafficker and the owner of a farm which was the site of a recent massacre.

The messages were signed by "Z-200" and insist that "the war" is not against the people, the authorities or the press, but against two Mexican drug cartels, according to "Prensa Libre" newspaper.

The morning paper reported that the threats could be linked to the media's coverage of the massacre of 29 peasants on 15 May in Petén department. "Los Zetas" is believed to be behind the massacre and the media have been following the story closely.

This is the second time that "Los Zetas" has issued threats against the press. In December 2010, local radio journalists were forced to read messages on the air or else face the possibility that the criminal group would set fire to the radio stations and kill their families.

(Please note this is an abridged translation).

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