The head of the Guatemalan military's Joint Chiefs of Staff General Rudy Ortiz along with four other military officers died in a helicopter crash Wednesday near the border with Mexico, media reports citing Government officials said.
Interior Secretary Mauricio Lopez told local media that the helicopter went down in a mountainous area of the western province of Huehuetenango.
Ortiz and the others were flying in a Bell 206 helicopter to the village of Ixquisis, where the two generals were going to check on troops, Lopez said.
"They couldn't land in Ixquisis and instead decided to go to the military base in Las Palmas and in that trajectory the helicopter crashed," Lopez said.
The helicopter belonged to Guatemala's air force and was in good condition, Lopez said.
Huehuetenango is along drug trafficking routes where Mexican and Guatemalan drug cartels are active. Lopez declined to comment on whether foul play was suspected. He said he wouldn't speculate on a cause for the crash and would wait for a report on the investigation.
Ortiz was a 32-year veteran of the army who was in charge of all military operations as well as the army's national and international relations. He planned to retire next year.
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