Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is withdrawing military soldiers from police duty following accusations they have been involved in corruption and crime while on street patrol, it has been announced.
Starting March 31, soldiers will be redeployed to monitor border areas and other "strategic points" across the country, Morales said on Wednesday.
Morales was following protocols established by previous administrations when he began assigning military personnel to the streets to counter drug cartels and other organized crime.
He's also requesting additional military equipment and training from the U.S. government to combat drug-trafficking along Guatemala's coast.
The Guatemalan government made the request to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley when she visited last week, citing the nation's track record of successfully fighting narco-trafficking with the assistance of the United States.
"(President Donald Trump) knows that we're giving here a pretty strong fight against drugs and that we're doing it with the resources we have and with the aid we receive from the different agencies of the United States," said Defense Minister Luis Ralda.
Ralda and Governance Minister Enrique Degenhart said the country needs more helicopters, boats, vehicles and communication equipment to boost the effectiveness of the Navy's special anti-drug force, which seized 10,000 packages of cocaine last year with a street value of nearly US$140 million.
Naval officers, who use U.S. intelligence to pursue drug smugglers off Guatemala's shores, say they need bigger and more sophisticated ships in order to detect and detain traffickers who use hard-to-detect submarine-like vessels.
"We need a logistics vessel that can allow us to be more successful operationally," one Guatemalan official told Haley.
Over the past six decades, the U.S. government has pumped billions of dollars into Guatemala's military, most notoriously when it aided the Central American government's genocide of over 200,000 of its own Indigenous people suspected of being communists in the 1980s.
Days after Haley's visit, Morales reaffirmed his dedication to the U.S. by announcing plans to move the Guatemalan embassy to Jeruselum: "I'd like to thank President Trump for opening this path. His brave decision encouraged us to do the right thing."