Diálogo interviewed Major General Tito Livio Moreno Coello, head of the Honduran Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, during the Central American Security Conference 2021, in Panama City, June 22-23.
Diálogo: What is new with the National Inter–Institutional Security Force (FUSINA, in Spanish) in the fight against narcotrafficking, maras, and gangs?
Major General Tito Livio Moreno Coello, head of the Honduran Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff: Since FUSINA was created in 2014, we have worked tirelessly in the fight against organized crime, narcotrafficking, common crime, and related activities, to achieve positive results at the national level. FUSINA is an interagency force consisting of justice workers, who fight against crime to achieve the justice, peace, and tranquility that the Honduran people have craved for years.
The results have been very successful; there has been a considerable decline in criminality, violent deaths among citizens, and even among criminal gangs, which we have dismantled by capturing their main leaders, ringleaders, and members, as well as seizing large amounts of drugs, which generate a lot of violence among these groups that benefit from this crime.
There are many challenges, but undoubtedly, the commitment of FUSINA’s members and their hard work has been very effective, mainly through land, air, and sea shields in the direct fight against narcotrafficking.
Diálogo: How does Honduras cooperate with the United States to halt the increase in narco-flights and destroy narco-airstrips?
Maj. Gen. Moreno: The drug flow through Honduras has decreased due to the operations of the air shield and the destruction of clandestine landing areas, which the Armed Forces carry out in the fight against the scourge of narcotrafficking, a work that is coordinated with effective support from the U.S. government through Southern Command, with whom communication and information exchange is maintained. This has enabled us to carry out joint and combined operations that have dealt heavy blows to narcotraffickers.
U.S. government support is important and necessary to confront these threats, especially narcotrafficking, in very isolated departments in the country, such as Gracias a Dios, Olancho, and Colón. An example of this is Operation Domino, a joint operation that took place last year , in which we seized some 80,000 kilograms of narcotics. We are currently coordinating actions to carry out new phases of this operation.
Diálogo: What work is Honduras doing with the Armed Forces of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua to stop transnational criminal organizations at the border?
Maj. Gen. Moreno: As part of the Central American Integration System (SICA, in Spanish), Honduras, through the Armed Forces, is working with Central American military forces in many joint and combined operations to strengthen the regional security system, especially with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. This facilitates access and information exchange for countering illicit activities, mainly in border areas where patrols are carried out to combat narcotrafficking and other related crimes, such as human, arms, and wildlife trafficking, as a measure to protect the region from the organized crime that threatens our nations.
Diálogo: What type of cooperation exists between the Honduran Armed Forces and U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Bravo (JTF-Bravo)?
Maj. Gen. Moreno: The Honduran Armed Forces work in a coordinated way and in cooperation with JTF-Bravo in many activities and operations that focus on providing support to the population, mainly on rescuing people in cases of natural disaster, not only in the country, but throughout the entire region.
In the aftermath of hurricanes Eta and Iota, which caused extensive destruction in Honduras, JTF-Bravo played a fundamental role in the transport of medicines and provisions and in evacuations of residents in many affected communities. These actions speak for themselves regarding JTF-Bravo’s great work and its importance for Honduras.
Diálogo: What is the greatest contribution of the Honduran Armed Forces to the regional effort to combat security threats?
Maj. Gen. Moreno: To carry out operations to counter narcotrafficking and other threats directly, the Honduran Armed Forces collaborate with government institutions and justice workers that are responsible for protecting the population and the country against transnational organized crime. This approach extends internationally in a coordinated way, in collaboration with the sister nations of Central America, the United States, and Colombia.