Drug Traffickers and Gangs in Honduras

Drug Traffickers and Gangs in Honduras

By Dialogo
February 10, 2011

What is happening in Honduras and the rest of Central America is that we are countries that are being victimized because there is an insatiable demand that really wants to make sure that the drugs arrive on time and are of the best quality at the best price for the consumer countries, meaning the USA, Asia and Europe. I think that the consuming countries should enforce a strict policy against the consumption of drugs and in line with the economic support of our country’s efforts in the fight against this scourge. General Walter Lopez Reyes, your recommendations are excellent. With your experience in the various fields throughout your professional life is providing a valid solution,…not too long ago a man from the U.S.A. came precisely to unite the Central American countries and to support them in this struggle against, the scourge, corruption found in narco-terrorists, narco-trafficking activities,…we have to fight against these 40,000 gang members, gangs that work for the drug lords,…It is a pleasure to say hello to you and to exchange opinions. I agree with Gen. Walter Lopez Reyes... joint operations must be monitored, supervised and evaluated periodically so law enforcement can achieve the desired results. I think General Lopez Reyes’ point of view is excellent. He is a great Honduran citizen who believed that when it was his turn he has done a lot to try and lower the levels of this incident. I completely agree with him in that the fight should a joint effort in order to obtain positive results, but additionally I would say that it should be an integral one, from all sectors, employment, educational opportunities and especially the teachers when they abandon their classrooms they send the children into the streets to become fiber for these criminals and these students who are idle have nothing else to do but to become involved in something that in the beginning is only a distraction, an adventure and then it is converted into a living hell for the rest of their lives and those of their families.

On 6 January, a massacre took place in Olancho, a region in northeastern
Honduras, in which four women and an equal number of children lost their lives.
Honduran Security Minister Oscar Álvarez has attributed the killings to a war
between the Juticalpa and Catacamas cartels. In the same way that the repression of
drug traffickers in Colombia pushed part of the illicit drug trade into Mexico, the
criminals are now consolidating their positions in the drug-trafficking corridor
that crosses Central America and includes Honduras. The problem is aggravated by the
connection between drug traffickers and gangs. In order to learn more about this
issue, Diálogo spoke with former head of the Armed Forces and
former vice president Walter López Reyes.

Diálogo – Studies demonstrate that there are approximately forty
thousand gang members in Honduras and that the great majority of them often work
shoulder to shoulder with drug traffickers. Is it necessary to fight the one in
order to get at the other and vice versa?

Gen. Walter López – The two phenomena are interconnected in some
way. They are similar in that we don’t know who is in charge, who are the bosses of
the cartels or the gangs. We do know the ones who are arrested, the great majority
of whom are mules or couriers, but up to now, it hasn’t been possible to locate the
big fish here in Honduras, except for one or two who had ties with the drug
traffickers in Sinaloa, in Mexico. The young people, chiefly those who are already
part of gangs, are a fertile field for organized crime and drug

Diálogo – Why?

Gen. Walter López – Because they’re already part of groups that
are basically made up of criminals. And they seek out these gangs for various
reasons: broken homes, dropping out of school, lack of job opportunities,
underemployment, etc. These young people today use the internet to establish contact
with gangs in other countries.

Diálogo – What is the way out of the problem of drug trafficking
in Honduras and in Central America?

Gen. Walter López – The way out is to work jointly with other
countries. It’s to have a very well coordinated, integrated anti-narcotics center
for the region. If there’s no coordination for combatting drug trafficking, it’s
going to be impossible on the Central American level.

Diálogo – And what is being done in this regard?

Gen. Walter López – There are already various institutions that
are in the process of reaching agreement, precisely because the problem is not
exclusive to Honduras. It’s a problem for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica
also; in other words, for everybody. And the countries are already coming to
understand that only if they are united will they be able to fight against this
plague. The thing is to have a good plan and carry it out.

Diálogo – But it would have to be an ambitious plan, wouldn’t

Gen. Walter López – Certainly; this is why everyone’s
participation is fundamental, including the participation of the United States,
which also has an interest in all this. I propose the formation of a unit like the
one that exists in the Florida Keys, the Joint Interagency Task Force.