Colombian and Honduran Navies Reinforce Intelligence in Fight against Narco-trafficking
By Dialogo May 25, 2016
Colombia's National Navy (ARC) recently trained 14 members of the Honduran Navy (FNH) on the best ways to conduct searches and gather intelligence to fight narco-trafficking and organized crime. The three-week training session, which also focused on counter-intelligence and investigative tactics occurred at the headquarters of the Naval Chief of Staff in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, from April 11th-29th.
Led by non-commissioned officer Daniel Jesús Magallanes, four members of the ARC's Mobile Intelligence Training Group taught the International Diploma Course on Strategic Naval Intelligence
to 13 men and a woman from FNH. The training was aimed at developing the knowledge and execution of the Naval Military Intelligence Cycle.
“The main goal focused on having students grow and strengthen their response capabilities to create a common frontier in the fight against the transnational threat of organized crime,” Captain Nelson Varela Rodríguez, FNH's Intelligence Chief, told Diálogo
. During the training, the participants, who were between 20 and 35-years-old, “put into practice the knowledge that they had acquired up to that moment regarding investigations, analyses, and detection [to help mitigate] the national problem of the illegal trafficking of people, weapons, and drugs."
Rigorous selection process
The Honduran Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, Ensigns, and Junior Grade Lieutenants were selected using rigorous confidence and ability tests. The participants also had to have experience conducting investigative and analysis work in the fight against drugs.
Honduran Ensign Cuper Arias said completing the course benefits his country. "If we want to counteract these crimes and guarantee our country’s security and tranquility, we need to know what the experience of our allies has been in the fight against drugs, [which is done] through exchanging information and ongoing training sessions via international cooperation. Intelligence and counterintelligence are employed at all moments before, during, and after a mission."
During the training session, the FNH participants conducted mock investigations, analysis work, and presentations, in addition to analyzing a general overview of Honduras before all 14 graduated. “Now, we better understand policies, strategy, and how transnational threats affect the safety and tranquility of our own jurisdiction,” Ensign Arias stated.
The Commanding General of the Honduran Navy, Rear Admiral Jesús Humberto Benítez Alvarado, and Colombian Naval attaché, Marine Colonel John Martin Beltrán Gómez, conferred diplomas to the participants and Colombian instructors during the course's closing ceremony.
“The goal and the expectations we had were met," Capt. Varela stated. "We have 14 members who have graduated from the course and who can now take more effective actions against organized crime. Organized crime [syndicates] modify their action plans in order to commit their crimes, so intelligence and counter-intelligence must be strengthened in order to draw lines of attack and to counter the actions of those associated with organized crime."
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos urged Hondurans to persevere in uprooting organized crime syndicates. “You have been capable of dismantling four drug trafficking cartels and extraditing their ringleaders," he said following a meeting with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández on April 6th, according to Santos' office. "This is not a short-term process but a long-term one, which requires perseverance. This is how we defeat organized crime. We know this struggle well."
History of cooperation
Colombia's Armed Forces have trained more than 5,000 members of Honduras' security forces in intelligence, mobility, border control and anti-kidnapping since 2010, the Honduran National Defense Secretary (SEDENA) wrote in an April 6th press release. The countries have proposed holding 80 training classes together in 2016, according to La Prensa
Collaboration between Honduras and Colombia has been strengthened in the past few years after the countries signed an Institutional Agreement on Maritime Cooperation in 2005.
On April 6th of this year, the Honduran and Colombian governments formally agreed to tighten their relationship through the construction, repair, and maintenance of ships and Naval equipment; consulting; and other services provided to the maritime and river Naval industry, according to SEDENA.
Honduras also signed cooperation agreements with Colombia's Defense Ministry and the Colombian Science and Technology Corporation for the development of a vessel ship that will allow the FNH to better address the needs and requirements of the zone of La Mosquita and its most remote communities.
Naval intelligence work and the exchange of information between Honduras and Colombia
allowed the FNH and public prosecutors to participate in the seizure of 35 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a container aboard a ship coming from Panama on May 1st. Colombian authorities alerted Honduras about the vessel, which was interdicted in Puerto Cortés on Honduras’ Caribbean coast, according to TVN-2
“The relationship of cooperation between the two countries’ Navies is excellent," Capt. Varela stated. "Organized crime does not have borders. The whole world is its stage. The more we fight these scourges that threaten us, the more their actions will be minimized, and we will manage to have peace and well-being for the population at-large."