Honduras: FUSINA Reinforces Border Security against Gangs
By Dialogo June 10, 2016
The Honduran government has given the Interagency Security Force (FUSINA) the responsibility of monitoring the land, air, and water borders and capturing gang members who are fleeing neighboring El Salvador, where security forces have put extraordinary public safety measures in place.
Gang threats transcend borders, making it crucial for Central American countries to guard their borders closely, FUSINA Commander, Infantry Colonel Selman David Arriaga Orellana, explained to Diálogo
. “We hold joint and coordinated operations with authorities from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, which include operational coordination with the Armed Forces and militaries of the various countries. This coordination is performed under the framework of the Conference of Central American Armed Forces, a regional organization comprised of the Armed Forces of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic."
Col. Arriaga explained there are plans for countries throughout the region to create a unified force to combat organized crime. “We are constantly exchanging information among the militaries in the region concerning our activities and operations. For example, Joint Task Force Maya-Chortí was established in March 2015 between the governments of Honduras and Guatemala with the goal of counteracting drug trafficking as well as reducing organized crime operations, ordinary crime, and the activities linked to both."
Throughout Honduras, FUSINA is carrying out “Operación Morazán," which is aimed at combating common and organized crime, in addition to securing the Central American country’s borders. Operation Morazán is being carried out “[while] respecting human rights and constitutional protections, since the only goal is to locate and arrest those people and criminal gangs that operate outside the law in order to later submit them to trial in the appropriate courts,” Col. Arriaga added.
Since its creation in February 2014, FUSINA has confiscated weapons, drugs, munitions, and explosives under the framework of Operation Morazán. Overall, FUSINA forces have executed 1,261 arrest warrants; seized 363 kilograms of cocaine; confiscated 935 firearms; and destroyed two drug labs.
FUSINA has confiscated military-grade firearms, including AK-47 rifles, M-16 rifles, M-203 rifles, light automatic rifles, submachine guns, mini-Uzis, and 9mm pistols. The security force has also seized $1,036,874 in cash and dismantled 11 covert landing strips used for narcoflights.
Civilians have also provided timely information regarding the presence of suspicious persons to FUSINA, which has helped reinforce the country's borders, where the presence of civil authorities has been strengthened. Cooperation with the security forces of other countries is a key component of the initiative. When FUSINA arrests a foreigner at the border, the force exchanges information with the authorities from that person’s country of origin to determine the suspect's background and possible criminal ties.
Since January 1st, FUSINA has arrested 804 suspects who intended to enter or move through Honduras illegally, 90 percent of whom had the intention of migrating. Overall, security forces determined that 5 percent of those detained were involved in crime.
Gangs problematic to public safety
Gangs are a public safety problem for each of the countries in the Northern Triangle (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala), said Migdonia Ayestas, the director of the University Institute for Democracy, Peace, and Security. “The Central American Integration System is prioritizing the issue of Democratic Security, but what is most important is not to just think about things. We have to act on them because these crime syndicates are already here.”
Assistance from the public is crucial to the operational success of FUSINA, which is combating those who want to use Honduras as a hideout or a base to conduct crimes, Col. Arriaga stated. “One of the resources used to fight crime is the Military, but the most important one is the public’s collaboration in a culture of complaint. From any corner of the country, they can reach out to 911, and FUSINA will respond safely to counter whatever illegal threat is taking place in a given area. A complaint means preventing illegal activity or a homicide. Confidence in FUSINA is essential, and the culture of complaint is fundamental."