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Drug traffickers sought in Guatemala bus killings

world Updated: Apr 01, 2009 11:29 IST

AP
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Investigators in Guatemala announced on Tuesday that a drug gang was responsible for the grisly killings of 15 Nicaraguans and a Dutch man aboard a bus in November. United Nations investigators and Guatemalan police said they are looking for a total of 10 suspects and have already arrested one man who allegedly participated in killing the foreigners and then burning the bus.

UN anti-crime commissioner Carlos Castresana said three of the suspects are former police officers. Castresana's commission is aiding in the investigation.

Investigators say the drug gang was apparently looking for a rival trafficker's drug shipment when they stopped the bus in eastern Guatemala.

They didn't find any drugs, but thought some of the passengers were members of the rival gang, and tortured some of the victims before shooting them to death and burning their bodies. Head prosecutor Amilcar Velasquez said Tuesday authorities are searching for the other 10 suspects.

The only suspect detained in the case, Rony Eduardo Terraza, was caught on Friday and is being held in Guatemala City. Parts of the bus, which originated its trip in Nicaragua, had been violently torn away, as if someone was looking for secret compartments.

The bus was on a charter route that carried Nicaraguan vendors to Guatemala, where they would buy things to sell at home. Guatemala has struggled with growing drug and gang violence. The charred bodies of three Salvadoran members of the Central American Parliament were found along a rural road in Guatemala in February 2007.