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Honduran and U.S. authorities cooperate to keep weapons away from gangs and cartels

By Dialogo
June 17, 2014

Honduran security forces are cooperating with U.S. authorities to secure weapons stocks in order to keep firearms out of the hands of gangs and transnational criminal organizations. Honduran security forces are working hard to make sure government weapons stocks are well-guarded and are also continuing to battle arms smuggling operations.
Honduran security forces are also destroying excess and obsolete weapons and munitions. To help in the effort, the U.S. government has donated two hydraulic shears which destroy weapons by cutting them into pieces. Honduran officials accepted the devices during a ceremony May 23 at the Logistics Support Command of the Armed Forces (CALFFAA) in Tegucigalpa.
National Police Director Gen. Ramon Sabillón, Director of Public Prosecutions Rolando Argueta, and CONADEH Director Roberto Herrera were among the Honduran officials who attended the ceremony, along with U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske.
“Donating weapon cutters is a vital component of the weapons destruction program funded by the U.S. Government and executed by MAG International,” the American embassy stated in a press release. MAG is a British NGO with experience in weapons and ammunition destruction in Africa and Central America.
“Destroying excess and obsolete weapons will reduce risk of them falling into the hands of criminals in Honduras,” Kubiske said on her Twitter account.

A ‘positive’ step: analyst

The collaborative initiative to secure the country’s supply of weapons and to destroy excess and obsolete firearms will help improve public safety, said Honduran security analyst Billy Joya. He is a former Honduran police official.
“I welcome the contribution of the United States in this regard —it is highly positive,” Joya said. “There is absolutely no reason why Honduras should have any arms other than the ones that are officially registered to be used by its law enforcement entities.”
Confiscating illegal weapons and destroying excess and illegal firearms will help keep handguns, rifles, and shotguns out of the hands of dangerous gangs and transnational criminal organizations.
“For decades, both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Security have confiscated all types of weapons: commercial, sports arms and high-caliber war weapons. We have storages replete with tons of fire arms, literally. Some of them might even be official arms that are no longer in use by the Armed Forces or the police,” he said. “We can’t under any circumstance keep storing these arms, it would be as senseless and dangerous as storing grenades, cocaine and other drugs seized in anti-drug trafficking operations. These destruction programs are very important because those arsenals represent a risk.”

Under the broad initiative, authorities are improving security at weapons storage sites throughout the country and providing advanced training to the Armed Forces, the National Police, and the Public Ministry in the best ways to excess and outdated weapons and ammunition.
Honduras and the U.S. cooperate on a wide range of security issues. For example, on June 10, Honduran and U.S. authorities began cooperating on a three-day hurricane preparedness drill. Honduran security forces, along with about 50 members of Honduran relief agencies, cooperated with about 30 representatives from U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and other officials.

Keeping weapons from cartels and gangs

Security officials want to keep firearms away from Mexican drug trafficking organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas, which are increasing their operations in Honduras. In April, Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez reported that members of these cartels are operating in the country’s western departments and Atlantic coast of Honduras.
The Armed Forces and police also want to keep firearms out of the hands of street gangs, such as Mara Salvatrucha, which is also known as MS-13, Barrio 18, and the drug trafficking gang Los Cachiros.

The importance of international cooperation

Cooperation between Honduran and U.S. security forces on securing weapons and other issues is crucial in the fight against gangs and international organized crime.
“It is public information that Honduras and the United States cooperate in many other programs to combat organized crime. I believe these coordinated and constant efforts will give fruits,” he said. Twitter: Honduran and U.S. authorities cooperate to secure weapons and destroy excess and obsolete firearms