By Dialogo September 05, 2012 About 200 United States Marines were deployed to offer support to the Guatemalan security forces in an unprecedented effort to combat drug trafficking in the Pacific waters off Guatemala, presidential spokesman Francisco Cuevas, told AFP on August 31. The U.S. Military is supporting Guatemala as part of Operation Martillo, which focuses on countering drug trafficking in Central America, said Cuevas. The important operation focuses on combating drug trafficking, in the Guatemalan Pacific, located in the southwest of this Central American nation, added Cuevas. On August 21, Guatemalan Defense Minister Ulises Anzueto, announced the start of operations that will last two months, with the goal of neutralizing drug trafficking gangs that smuggle drugs across the Pacific. During the land portion, the actions will cover six departments of southwestern Guatemala, involving about 2,000 Guatemalan Military personnel. Operation Martillo is a multi-national initiative to combat drug trafficking, with the participation of Central American, Caribbean countries and European countries in addition to the United States. Drug dealers “have started to use the south coast, but especially the sea. What they do is unload [the drug] in the sea, and then use the routes to move it to the border of Mexico,” reported Guatemalan President Otto Pérez, in late August. Pérez, a retired military officer who took office in January, succeeding Social Democrat Álvaro Colom, has been advocating the need for a new approach to the drug issue.