Honduran Campaign to Counter Drug Crime Includes Help of Civilians
By Dialogo August 25, 2015I CONGRATULATE YOU FOR YOUR IMPORTANT ARTICLES AND WE BROADCAST THEM ON LOS ANDES RADIO STATION IN CHOTA, PERU Nothing more fair than to take these measures. Drugs have to be fought YOUR NEWS ARTICLES ARE VERY GOOD. FROM VENEZUELA, I CONGRATULATE YOU Fighting drug trafficking should reduce violence. That's good. Let's assume the USA is 100% successful and the country is free of drugs. I imagine that millions of drug addicts will protest and revolt: consequence -- deaths and property damage? good news
The “Únete a Nuestra Lucha” [Join Our Fight] campaign gives Honduras' civilian population the opportunity to cooperate with the Drug Enforcement Bureau (DLCN) to reduce and eliminate the sale of narcotics and to disband drug-trafficking gangs.
In an interview with Diálogo,
DLCN's chief, Infantry Colonel Isaac Santos, discusses the success of the campaign, which was launched in May 2015 by the Honduran Prosecutor’s Office (MP).
What are the main goals of the “Únete a Nuestra Lucha” campaign?
We want to engage with the populace to provide anonymous tips and help in the fight against illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and related crimes, thereby reducing and, in the mid-term, eliminating the sale of drugs to vulnerable sectors of the population. We also aim to arrest those who are committing this crime. Citizens can report people, criminal organizations, and criminal activities related to the illegal drug market, chemical precursors and any activity involved in the commissions of money laundering and related offenses. To summarize, our goals for this year are: to break the ties between drug traffickers and the population; reduce by at least 20% the incidence of drug-related crimes, particularly the high rates of violence; to educate the population on the culture of reporting crimes as a means to improve their own welfare; expand our database on people involved in drug trafficking, including mapping the occurrence of drug sales and what drugs are sold in order to involve our detectives in the process of managing this information; and spread the report system throughout the region to generate immediate responses.
How can Hondurans participate, and what sort of response have you had so far?
We have started telephone lines, pages on social networks, websites, e-mail addresses, advertisements on radio, TV, and in newspapers, as well as signs in shopping centers, airports, high-traffic areas, and government offices. Any citizen who wishes to cooperate with the DLNC can call (800) 2221-8263 in Tegucigalpa, 2252-4109 in San Pedro Sula or from cellphones (00504) 9940-2222 or 3140-2222. In addition, they can find us on Facebook as dlcn.hn, we are on Twitter as @dlcn.hn, our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
and our website is www.dlcn.hn
. According to surveys conducted by our personnel, citizens approve of our reporting and awareness campaign. It is worth pointing out that the participation levels at the beginning were very high, particularly for reports coming from neighborhoods and outlying areas of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula; they exceeded 100 reports a day. After the first month, the number of reports decreased until they stabilized at an average of 20 reports a day. The decrease occurred because, more than anything else, people were reporting a variety of crimes, not just drug trafficking or money laundering, but also extortion, domestic violence, traffic in children, death threats, and environmental offenses, among others.
What are some of the first results you’ve achieved in the short time the campaign has run, compared with the same period last year?
In the first three months since this campaign was launched (from May 11 to August 14, 2015), the campaign yielded some results in spite of the fact that the process for investigating reports includes steps that require defined periods of time, particularly with regard to small-scale drug dealing, but the main effect has been the opening of more investigation files aimed at disbanding gangs that distribute and traffic drugs. So in the same period of 2014, we seized 102.5 kg of cocaine hydrochloride, but in 2015 we seized 308 kg. With regard to crack, there was a decrease, because we seized 70 rocks in 2015, while 167 in 2014. As for the reports we received during the same time period, in 2014 we received 32 cases, but in 2015 we have received 112 reports.
What does including citizens through this campaign mean for your work?
It is an invaluable contribution of information to identify the groups or gangs of criminals involved in drug trafficking and street-level or small-scale drug dealing, including the areas where they operate, identifying the leaders, the money laundering networks, about shipments of precursor chemicals, and other related offenses. In addition, citizen contributions represent how tired and angry people are over seeing their children suffer from drug addiction and fall victim to the violence spurred on by the drug scourge. It is basic to the continuity of this campaign to gather more domestic and international resources for greater dissemination through the results and achievements we’ve seen, and to create a process for prevention education targeting children and adolescents who live in the most at-risk areas.
The spokesperson for the National Police, Deputy Commissioner Leonel Sauceda, told Diálogo
that most of the violent deaths in this country are drug related. Do you share that conclusion, and what will you do to reverse the situation?
I agree with you completely, since according to studies conducted by the Bureau of Forensic Medicine under the Prosecutor’s Office, the increase in violent deaths over the last four years has been directly influenced by two basic factors. First is the violence generated by the increase in drug use, such as crack cocaine, in the neighborhoods on the outskirts of large and medium-sized cities. And second, probably as a consequence of the first, is the violence caused by the fight for drug distribution and sales markets and control over that territory by drug dealing gangs and transnational gangs like Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (MS-18), as well as local gangs like “Los Chirizos,” “El Combo que no se Deja,” “Los Benjamines,” and “Los Grillos,” among others. To solve this violent situation, we need to bring back the integrity of the family, the basic values of behavior and coexistence, and therefore, since the beginning, this campaign has broken the shadow of silence and fear people were living under, and now they are filing these reports, demonstrating again that we are fed up with our children being victimized by violence and drugs.