A state of emergency may soon be declared by the Guatemalan government in two municipalities bordering Mexico due to the proliferation of drug trafficking groups in the region.  Troops from the Guatemalan military have been dispatched to stabilize the area and stem the flow of heroin into their country.

The Ixchiguan and Tajumulco municipalities of Guatemala have been the site of bloody warfare between Mexican drug cartels and criminal gangs competing to control the drug trafficking routes in the area, leaving the residents caught in the crossfire.

“The situation there is critical. Last night there was a battle between two criminal groups and they attacked each other with rifles and grenades,” said army spokesman William Garcia.

The measure to initiate a state of emergency was announced on Thursday, and the nation’s congress has three days from the announcement to approve the emergency measures.  The proposed changes include tripling the number of troops (from 150 to 450) permitted to participate in the fight against the drug cartels, and allowing them to remain in the area for a minimum of 30 days.