FUSINA Repels Honduran Drug Gangs in Mosquito Coast Region

By Dialogo
June 16, 2015




Agents with the Honduran National Inter-Agency Task Force (FUSINA) have made important inroads in the fight against transnational criminal organizations that operate in the Mosquito Coast region -- particularly in remote areas that have become a haven for drug trafficking in recent years.

For example, in the Caribbean region of Honduras, some drug trafficking organizations are exploiting members of the Miskito indigenous people, using threats or promises of large amounts of money to persuade them to transport drugs. But the Honduran government is fighting back -- aggressively focusing air, naval, and land forces against drug trafficking organizations as part of an overarching security plan known as Operation Morazán.

That initiative is being carried out by FUSINA, an organization comprised of 4,400 highly trained, equipped, and specialized men and women of the Armed Forces, the National Police, the Attorney General's office, the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), the Immigration Agency and the Directorate for Intelligence. And their efforts have led to several successful security operations, including two major drug interdictions in the Mosquito Coast area. In mid April, FUSINA together with Navy personnel seized 691 kilos of cocaine on the Caratasca Lagoon in Puerto Lempira, the capital of Gracias a Dios department. The drug was hidden in six fishing boats traveling on the lagoon. And a week later, FUSINA agents conducted an operation that led to the capture of Jorge Zambulá Thompson, a Miskito man allegedly carrying 175 kilos of cocaine on a fishing boat in the department of Gracias a Dios.

Inter-agency and international cooperation is a key component of these efforts; for example, 400 Marines and pilots work in shifts to patrol sea and air routes throughout the day, while two ships patrol inter-oceanic waters. Meanwhile, a Military unit in the area coordinates these efforts with forces from U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

Such collaboration was crucial in the operation that led to the capture of Zambulá Thompson. “The arrest was the result of coordinated work done by various government agencies, which are currently operating in the area of Gracias a Dios, all part of FUSINA and deployed by land, air, and sea to shield this area of operations,” FUSINA commander Infantry Colonel Gustavo Adolfo Paz Escalante told Diálogo
.

Overall, since its launch on January 27, 2014, Operation Morazán has led to the seizure of more than 11,000 kilos of cocaine, most of it at sea; the execution of 3,927 arrest warrants, including extradition orders; and the dismantling of 55 criminal gangs.

Government disrupts gangs in Gracias a Dios


The two busts in April denote a broader trend in Gracias a Dios, where transnational criminal organizations have pulled some Miskito people into drug trafficking by threatening them or offering them large amounts of money, Col. Paz Escalante said. The Miskitos are located in the Northeast region of Honduras, an area known as “The Honduran Mosquitia” -- specifically from the mouth of the Rio Wanks (also known as Rio Coco or Rio Segovia) to Rio Tinto (also know as Rio Black) in Gracias a Dios.

“In order to prevent the inhabitants of Gracias a Dios from developing direct and indirect activities for the benefit of common and organized crime, state forces have currently been deployed on land, sea, and air to take full control of this region,” Col. Paz Escalante said. “We are implementing a strong social development program that seeks to improve the living conditions of indigenous communities.”

As a consequence of FUSINA's efforts, the Mosquito Coast region “can’t be regarded as a paradise for drug lords anymore,” said Eugenio Sosa, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). Those forces have contributed to several major drug seizures and arrests of organized crime kingpins in recent months, including the captures of several leaders of Los Cachiros, a drug trafficking gang, and the leaders of the Los Valles drug trafficking group.

That organization, based in the department of Copán, was led by brothers Miguel Arnulfo Valle Valle and Luis Alonso Valle Valle. In October 2014, Honduran law enforcement authorities captured the two brothers; the Honduran government later extradited them to the United States, where they face federal drug trafficking charges. U.S. federal prosecutors allege the brothers led an organization which transported tons of cocaine from Colombia to Honduras and finally to the United States.

And in July 2014, U.S. federal authorities in Florida arrested Miguel's and Luis's sister, Digna Valle Valle. Honduran daily La Prensa
reported in April that she had pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and agreed to cooperate with U.S. federal prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Additionally, FUSINA, in cooperation with the United States government, has also disrupted Los Cachiros. In September 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department designated seven individuals and five businesses tied to the Honduran gang; and in January, the group’s alleged leaders -- Javier Eriberto Rivera Maradiaga, alias “Javier Cachiro,” and his brother Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga -- surrendered to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in January.

Strategic security initiative


Dismantling groups like Los Valles and Los Cachiros is part of the Honduran government's broad security strategy. At least four drug cartels, including at one from Mexico and one from Colombia, operate in Honduras; and FUSINA operations have hit them hard, seizing some of their assets and capturing some of their operatives. Those efforts have reduced violence and overall crime in the departments of Olancho, Copán, Cortés, and the city of San Pedro Sula.

“We are tackling crime in the countryside, towns, and neighborhoods,” Col. Paz Escalante said. “We trust in God that we will be cleaning and increasingly reducing the crime rate in each of the neighborhoods of the different municipalities.”



Agents with the Honduran National Inter-Agency Task Force (FUSINA) have made important inroads in the fight against transnational criminal organizations that operate in the Mosquito Coast region -- particularly in remote areas that have become a haven for drug trafficking in recent years.

For example, in the Caribbean region of Honduras, some drug trafficking organizations are exploiting members of the Miskito indigenous people, using threats or promises of large amounts of money to persuade them to transport drugs. But the Honduran government is fighting back -- aggressively focusing air, naval, and land forces against drug trafficking organizations as part of an overarching security plan known as Operation Morazán.

That initiative is being carried out by FUSINA, an organization comprised of 4,400 highly trained, equipped, and specialized men and women of the Armed Forces, the National Police, the Attorney General's office, the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), the Immigration Agency and the Directorate for Intelligence. And their efforts have led to several successful security operations, including two major drug interdictions in the Mosquito Coast area. In mid April, FUSINA together with Navy personnel seized 691 kilos of cocaine on the Caratasca Lagoon in Puerto Lempira, the capital of Gracias a Dios department. The drug was hidden in six fishing boats traveling on the lagoon. And a week later, FUSINA agents conducted an operation that led to the capture of Jorge Zambulá Thompson, a Miskito man allegedly carrying 175 kilos of cocaine on a fishing boat in the department of Gracias a Dios.

Inter-agency and international cooperation is a key component of these efforts; for example, 400 Marines and pilots work in shifts to patrol sea and air routes throughout the day, while two ships patrol inter-oceanic waters. Meanwhile, a Military unit in the area coordinates these efforts with forces from U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

Such collaboration was crucial in the operation that led to the capture of Zambulá Thompson. “The arrest was the result of coordinated work done by various government agencies, which are currently operating in the area of Gracias a Dios, all part of FUSINA and deployed by land, air, and sea to shield this area of operations,” FUSINA commander Infantry Colonel Gustavo Adolfo Paz Escalante told Diálogo
.

Overall, since its launch on January 27, 2014, Operation Morazán has led to the seizure of more than 11,000 kilos of cocaine, most of it at sea; the execution of 3,927 arrest warrants, including extradition orders; and the dismantling of 55 criminal gangs.

Government disrupts gangs in Gracias a Dios


The two busts in April denote a broader trend in Gracias a Dios, where transnational criminal organizations have pulled some Miskito people into drug trafficking by threatening them or offering them large amounts of money, Col. Paz Escalante said. The Miskitos are located in the Northeast region of Honduras, an area known as “The Honduran Mosquitia” -- specifically from the mouth of the Rio Wanks (also known as Rio Coco or Rio Segovia) to Rio Tinto (also know as Rio Black) in Gracias a Dios.

“In order to prevent the inhabitants of Gracias a Dios from developing direct and indirect activities for the benefit of common and organized crime, state forces have currently been deployed on land, sea, and air to take full control of this region,” Col. Paz Escalante said. “We are implementing a strong social development program that seeks to improve the living conditions of indigenous communities.”

As a consequence of FUSINA's efforts, the Mosquito Coast region “can’t be regarded as a paradise for drug lords anymore,” said Eugenio Sosa, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). Those forces have contributed to several major drug seizures and arrests of organized crime kingpins in recent months, including the captures of several leaders of Los Cachiros, a drug trafficking gang, and the leaders of the Los Valles drug trafficking group.

That organization, based in the department of Copán, was led by brothers Miguel Arnulfo Valle Valle and Luis Alonso Valle Valle. In October 2014, Honduran law enforcement authorities captured the two brothers; the Honduran government later extradited them to the United States, where they face federal drug trafficking charges. U.S. federal prosecutors allege the brothers led an organization which transported tons of cocaine from Colombia to Honduras and finally to the United States.

And in July 2014, U.S. federal authorities in Florida arrested Miguel's and Luis's sister, Digna Valle Valle. Honduran daily La Prensa
reported in April that she had pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and agreed to cooperate with U.S. federal prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Additionally, FUSINA, in cooperation with the United States government, has also disrupted Los Cachiros. In September 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department designated seven individuals and five businesses tied to the Honduran gang; and in January, the group’s alleged leaders -- Javier Eriberto Rivera Maradiaga, alias “Javier Cachiro,” and his brother Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga -- surrendered to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in January.

Strategic security initiative


Dismantling groups like Los Valles and Los Cachiros is part of the Honduran government's broad security strategy. At least four drug cartels, including at one from Mexico and one from Colombia, operate in Honduras; and FUSINA operations have hit them hard, seizing some of their assets and capturing some of their operatives. Those efforts have reduced violence and overall crime in the departments of Olancho, Copán, Cortés, and the city of San Pedro Sula.

“We are tackling crime in the countryside, towns, and neighborhoods,” Col. Paz Escalante said. “We trust in God that we will be cleaning and increasingly reducing the crime rate in each of the neighborhoods of the different municipalities.”
In the area of La Mosquitia Excellent In my view this is an excellent magazine, positive and informative.
Share