Honduran authorities launch security initiative to cut homicide rate by more than half

By Dialogo
February 05, 2014

Honduran authorities are working to dramatically reduce the country’s
homicide rate, which has been driven up in recent years by drug trafficking

In early January 2014, Security Minister Arturo Corrales Alvarez announced
that Honduran security forces will cooperate with each other and go after street
gangs and transnational organized crime groups which operate in the country. The
security initiative is designed to reduce the rate of killing, Corrales said.
Corrales made the announcement following a meeting with Honduran National Police
Commissioner Ramón Sabillón.

The security minister also asked local officials, such as mayors, and all
members of society to help in the battle against organized crime. Ordinary citizens
could help authorities by providing information.

Honduras, which has a population of 8.5 million, has one of the highest rates
of homicide in the world, according to the United Nations. The country has a
homicide rate of 86.5 killings per 100,000 residents, according to UN statistics.
There were more than 7,000 killings in Honduras in 2013. Eight of every 10 victims
were men under age 45 who were, shot to death, according to the Violence Observatory
at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), insightcrime.org repored.

Authorities hope the security initiative will reduce the homicide rate to
what it was in 2004, Corrales said. That year, Honduras recorded 35 killings per
100,000 residents, according to UN figures.

Cooperation between police and Armed Forces crucial: analyst

Corrales said Honduran police are “the front line” in the battle against
violence by international drug traffickers and street gangs. Corrales did not
provide further details about the security initiative.

Honduran police forces should cooperate in the fight against violence with
the country’s Armed Forces, which are stable and effective, said and strong, said
said Armando Rodríguez, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of
Mexico (UNAM).

Specifically, police should rely on the intelligence arm of the Honduran Army
and the Special Security Response Group, which is known as “the Tigers,” the
security analyst said.

“The high level of training of the Armed Forces and the Tigers group should
be used in areas of conflict,” Rodríguez said. “They should be used in remote
regions where access is difficult, to round up criminal gangs, which will improve
security. Trying to reduce the number of murders in a year to the number from ten
years ago is a tough challenge to achieve.””

Gang activity

There are about 1,350 youth gangs in Honduras, which have more than 150,000
members, according to published reports. Most of the gang members are between the
ages of 11 and 18, and many of them operate in San Pedro Sula.

Young gang members commit killings, extortion, kidnappings, and sell drugs.
Mara Salvatrucha, which is also known as MS-13, and Barrio 18 are the major gangs in

In addition to San Pedro Sula, gang violence is high the cities of Tocoa,
Distrito Central, Tela, La Ceiba, and Juticalpa. San Pedro Sula is the industrial
hub of the country, and also the second largest city in Honduras.

San Pedro Sula topped the list of the 50 most violent cities in the world in
2013, according to the Citizens Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, a
community group based in Mexico. San Pedro Sula had a homicide rate of 187 killings
per 100,000 residents. Acapulco was third on the list.

‘El Chapo’ in Honduras

Violence in Honduras has increased dramatically since 2009, when Mexican drug
cartels began increasing their operations in the country. Honduras has become an
increasingly important place for Mexican transnational criminal organizations, such
as the Sinaloa Cartel, which is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

The Sinaloa Cartel and other Mexican organized crime groups, such as Los
Zetas, smuggle large amounts of cocaine from South America through Honduras. Nearly
90 percent of the cocaine which is smuggled from South America to the United States
and Mexico is transported through Honduras, according to published reports.

Authorities estimate there are 200 illegal airstrips in Honduras, which are
used by drug traffickers to transport cocaine. Most of the airstrips are near the
Atlantic Ocean. The forces of El Chapo control most of these airstrips.

In 2013, the Armed Forces of Honduras disabled 100 irregular airstrips, the
Defense Ministry reported.

Successful security initiatives

Honduran security forces have achieved several successful initiatives in
recent months.

For example, in September 2013, Honduran police agents apprehended several
alleged leaders of the gang “Los Cachiros,” including Javier Eriberto Rivera
Madariaga and Devis Leonel Rivera Madariaga, who are brothes. Police also seized
more than $800 million (USD) in properties, including hotels and even a zoo. .

Los Cachiros is a violent drug trafficking organization based in Honduras. It
has forced alliances with Mexican and Colombian drug cartels.

The need for cooperation

Honduran security officials understand the need to cooperate with other Latin
American countries and the United States in the fight against drug trafficking,
Rodríguez said. Cooperation primarily involves the sharing of information about the
movements and plans of drug traffickers.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández recently, warned gangs and other
criminal groups that they have run out of friends and have three options.

“Gang members, extortionists, people involved in organized crime have very
few friends remaining. The dark party that has caused so much harm to this country
is over,” Hernández said. “Either shape up your behavior, seek peace in your souls,
dedicate yourselves to your families and work decently, or you have the option of
leaving the country, and if not, you will end up in prison.”

What does the DEA think of the continuity of "Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán"? Can it be that El Chapo is a DEA informer????????????