Guatemala deports Salvadoran gang members buying guns

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) " Two Salvadoran fugitive gang members were detained in neighboring Guatemala, where they had come to hide and buy weapons, and authorities said they were deported on Tuesday.

Guatemalan police spokesman Pablo Castillo said the two men were taken to the border with El Salvador and handed over to authorities in that country. Both had been sought in El Salvador for crimes including murder, and one was among the country's most-wanted fugitives.

According to investigators, they were buying guns that came from Mexico to send to El Salvador, Castillo said.

Prosecutors and police carried out 24 raids in the Guatemalan capital and seized assault rifles, ammunition and other weaponry, along with money and stolen vehicles. Six other people were detained.

Guatemala and El Salvador lie in what's known as the Northern Triangle, a tri-nation region of Central America that also includes Honduras. The three countries are plagued by violent street gangs and routinely record some of the highest homicide rates on the planet.

Large swaths of Mexico, meanwhile, are dominated by drug cartels armed with high-power weaponry, much of it smuggled illegally from the United States.

Salvadoran authorities say gangsters have sought to buy weapons from two Mexican drug organizations: the hyper-violent Zetas and the powerful Sinaloa cartel of imprisoned kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

In July 2016, El Salvador's Public Ministry said gang members were purchasing weapons in Honduras and Guatemala. Multiple suspects have been arrested trying to import assault weapons or on suspicion of providing them to gangs.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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