Honduras Destroys 15 “Narco Airstrips” in Only Six Months

Honduras Destroys 15 “Narco Airstrips” in Only Six Months

By René Novoa/Diálogo
July 20, 2016

With the destruction of 15 clandestine landing strips by the
National Inter-Agency Security Force (FUSINA) from January 1st through July 3rd
of this year, Honduras is making steady progress in the fight against
narcotrafficking. FUSINA has destroyed 125 clandestine landing strips since
2014. FUSINA is a special force composed of military troops,
National Police agents, members of the Attorney General's office and the
Supreme Court, and the National Directorate of Intelligence & Investigation
and Migration. Military Justice Lieutenant Colonel Santos Nolasco, FUSINA's
spokesman, said those operations are part of "Operation Morazán,"
which has been ongoing since 2014. “When President Juan Orlando Hernández began
his administration, he ordered us to fight organized crime, narcotrafficking,
and street gangs," he added. “FUSINA's success in destroying those clandestine landing
areas is due to coordination between the state security agencies and the
specialized work of our Armed Forces," he said about the operation’s
effectiveness. The airstrips were used to transport drugs from South
America to Mexico and, subsequently, to the United States. Recently, FUSINA
destroyed a “narcostrip” in Los Llanos de Rapa, located in La Mosquitia, in the
northeastern department of Gracias a Dios. Local newspaper La Tribuna reported
on July 4th that this was the fourth landing strip destroyed in that zone in
the 20 days prior. How the Cartels Operate Since its inception, FUSINA has destroyed 125 landing
strips: 52 in 2014; 58 in 2015; and 15 so far in 2016. “Most of these
clandestine areas were destroyed in Gracias a Dios, which is the forested zone
of La Mosquita," Lt. Col. Nolasco said. "However, we have assigned
Army troops to patrol the zone and protect those living there." The landing strips are 300 to 1,000 meters long and are
usually 12 meters wide. Lt. Col. Nolasco added that with the help of the U.S.
Southern Command, the cartels' operation method has been identified. “We've discovered that the cartels use their own twin-engine
planes; sometimes they rent them and other times they steal them from private
hangars in Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, and Honduras," he said. Aerial Shield Battles Drug Trafficking Since 2014, Honduras has installed three long-distance radar
stations to track the routes of drug planes entering the country. “Each time we sound the alarm, Honduran Air Force planes,
whose pilots are trained to intercept suspicious aircraft and corroborate their
flight plans, are sent out. We also can count on the reaction of Armed Forces
troops who are stationed in the vicinity," Lt. Col. Nolasco stated. The government's clear objective is to prevent drugs from
entering the country’s national territory by any means, Lt. Col. Nolasco
emphasized. “This is why we consider it so important to destroy these
clandestine areas, so that Hondurans and the international community know that
FUSINA battles drug trafficking frontally, as called for in the Citizen
Security Plan that's being implemented in the country," he said. More Results from FUSINA Lt. Col. Nolasco revealed that during the first half of
2016, FUSINA also decommissioned: 1,198 firearms, including AK-47 rockets,
AR-15s, M-16s, FAL, Galil, mini-Uzi machine guns, and M-203 grenade launchers; 7,458 types of
munitions; and nine fragmentation grenades. In terms of drug trafficking, they’ve seized 391 kilos of
cocaine; 5,973 kilos of marijuana; 76 kilos of cocaine paste; and currency
worth 30.8 million lempiras ($1.3 million) have been taken out of circulation. In other actions, two "narcolaboratories" were
destroyed and 226 vehicles and 59 motorbikes were recovered. Also, three
citizens were extradited for drug trafficking and FUSINA agents carried out
1,626 arrests resulting in the imprisonment of 5,892 civilians accused of a
range of crimes. In addition, 1,107 persons representing 25 nationalities were
detained for attempting to illegally enter the country. It's Everyone's Fight “Organized crime and narcotrafficking have had roots in the
country for decades. That's why the results being produced by FUSINA are an
important step in the right direction, which is to eradicate this problem from
our society," said Honduran security analyst Allan Fajardo. These results
have allowed the population to slowly return to normalcy, he said. He recommended that authorities purge justice system
officials and learn from other nations' experiences. "Agents must get more training by
experts from the United States, Colombia, and Mexico, countries whose
experiences are well-proven in the fight against narcotrafficking." The people also have a basic role to play in this process,
Fajardo said, adding that "silence is a way of promoting delinquency, and,
for that reason, Hondurans should denounce any abnormal activity they observe
so that the authorities can carry out their work." In that respect, the
government has dedicated a free 911 line that guarantees that the identity
of those reporting suspicious activity
can remain anonymous.
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