The 12th edition of Operation Morazán-Sandino, conducted by Honduras and Nicaragua along their common border in mid-2019, resulted in more than 70 criminals arrested, 12,000 marijuana plants destroyed, a narco-lab dismantled, and $130,000 seized. The operation, led by both countries’ armed forces, aims to neutralize transnational crime linked to drug, arms, and human trafficking, cattle rustling, and smuggling goods.
This is a temporary operation. It began in 2014, as part of the Central American Armed Forces Conference, and it activates a joint task force consisting of units of the Honduran and Nicaraguan armies, who conduct land and maritime patrol on their 584 miles of common border. Honduran Navy Captain José Domingo Meza, director of the Armed Forces Public Affairs, said that Operation Morazán-Sandino is planned every three months and executed in periods of up to two weeks.
“There are many illegal border crossings or blind spots where crimes are committed on both sides of the border, so strategies are executed to close routes toward the interior [of both countries],” Honduran Army Colonel Iván Rolando Cano Mejía, commander of the 101th Infantry Brigade, which leads the operation on the Honduran side, told Diálogo.
According to the March 2019 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report of the U.S. Department of State, Nicaragua and Honduras have important land, maritime, and air routes used for narcotrafficking. Transnational criminal groups leverage the porous border and less-populated areas in both countries to conduct their activities. The report also shows an increase of narcotrafficking via Nicaraguan maritime and air routes since the first half of 2018, due to political instability and to roadblocks neighboring countries have imposed.
“Threats in both regions are common,” said Col. Cano. “The narcotrafficking route is north-bound, and our countries are an essential passage.”
For the operation’s next edition, for which no date has been established yet, both countries agreed to increase intelligence and reinforce communications systems between participating units. Capt. Meza did not rule out that in the future they might set up a standing joint task force, like those between Honduras and Guatemala (Maya-Chortí) and Honduras and El Salvador (Lenca-Sumpul).