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Honduras Asks United States for Radar and Helicopters for Fight Against Drug Trafficking

By Dialogo
January 04, 2012

Honduras has asked the United States for a radar and helicopters to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking, announced General René Osorio, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Honduran Armed Forces.

“We’re requesting a radar because those are the eyes that we have to have. Small planes enter and leave the country, and we can’t monitor them. A radar would be a help to us. (…) We need support from cooperating countries,” Osorio said.

At a meeting with U.S. embassy personnel, the military chief told reporters, “we made them [the United States] see the need for a radar,” while he calculated the cost of the device at around $120 million dollars.

In Osorio’s estimation, “the important thing is to have a radar and a fleet of helicopters,” said the high-ranking officer, who also spoke about the Honduran Armed Forces’ needs.

Frequently, he indicated, military personnel receive information “that a small plane is coming” with drugs, in departments such as Colón and Olancho (in eastern Honduras), where the drug traffickers “have acted freely,” since the country does not have the appropriate equipment to track them.

The United States has supported Honduras in operations to combat drug trafficking and participates in joint patrols along both coasts, in addition to having a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) office operating on Honduran territory, but Osorio insisted that the country urgently needs a radar.

In November 2011, Washington donated two Maule MXT-7-180 light small planes to Honduras.

Ninety percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States, according to that country’s officials, passes through Central America on its way from South America, and the cartels have obtained the collaboration of fishermen and local residents, resulting in an increase in local trafficking and drug use, as well as violence.