Honduras protects its Atlantic and Pacific coasts from drug trafficking
By Dialogo September 16, 2014
Honduras is making progress in fighting drug trafficking and violence, and President Juan Orlando Hernández is pledging that security forces will do all they can to improve public safety even more.
Because drug trafficking and violence are inextricably linked, reducing drug trafficking will help diminish the violence, the president told journalists.
Much of the violence in Honduras “is generated by drug trafficking; violence and drug trafficking together reduce the healthy opportunities in the country,” Hernández said. “We have to go to the root of the problem.”
Honduras and the United States are cooperating in the fight against drug trafficking organizations, primarily by sharing information and resources.
In an article published in the Army Times in July, Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, agreed that the vast majority of the violence in Honduras is attributable to drug traffickers.
“There are some in officialdom who argue that not 100 percent of the violence today is due to the drug flow to the U.S., and I agree, but I would say that perhaps 80 percent of it is,” Gen. Kelly wrote.
Law fights drug trafficking at sea
The Honduran National Congress has also bolstered the fight against drug trafficking with a new law focused along the country’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
On June 29, the National Congress approved the Law for the Protection of Maritime Space, which is designed to help fight security forces fight maritime drug trafficking.
The law provides the Honduran Navy the authority to stop and inspect virtually all boats and vessels navigating within Honduran waters. Under the law, the Honduran Navy would need to “reasonably suspect” that boats or vessels were engaging in illegal activities, breaking national or international navigation norms, or behaving in a hostile manner before stopping and inspecting a boat or other vessel.
The law allows the Navy to detain individuals from boats who are suspected of illegal activities.
Drug traffickers operate on both coasts
Protecting the Pacific and Atlantic coasts from drug traffickers poses different challenges for Honduran security forces.
The country’s Atlantic coastline, in the Caribbean, is about 400 miles long. The Pacific coastline is about 70 miles long.
Drug traffickers operate on both coasts, transporting kilos of cocaine on boats and submersible vessels from cocaine-producing countries in Latin America to Guatemala, Mexico, the United States, Europe, and Africa.
International drug trafficking organizations often transport cocaine from drug-producing countries, such as Colombia, to Honduras by using small airplanes or smuggling them in trucks by land, Gen. Kelly said.
“Most of the drugs come from South America in to Honduran territory by land and by sea,” Gen. Kelly told the Honduran newspaper La Prensa in February.
Once the drugs are in Honduras, drug traffickers often use boats and submersible vessels to transport them to their next destination, Kelly said. “Sometimes between four and five tons at a time,” the general said.
Drug seizures at sea
Interdictions at sea are effective because security forces often seize large quantities of cocaine and other drugs, and because such operations are often less violent than confrontations on land, Kelly said.
“On a boat you can seize five, six, even seven kilos. If you do this at sea, almost always there is no violence, but if it is done on land, the likelihood of violence increases because there are more people with arms inland.”
The Honduran Navy had improved security in the Caribbean even before the National Congress approved the new maritime law. The Navy increased patrols and other security operations along the coasts in the departments of Colón and, Gracias a Dios. The Navy also improved security in the Gulf of Fonseca, along the Pacific coast.
The security initiatives paid off. No boats with drug cargoes entered the country during the first three months of 2014, the Honduran Armed Forces reported in April.
This showed improvement from the level of drug trafficking activity along the coasts in recent years.
For example, in 2011, 271 narco-boats with drug cargos made it to Honduran shores. That was an average of more than 22 narco-boats entering the country per month.
International cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking
Cooperation between Honduras and other Central American countries and U.S. security forces has led to a number of successful operations against drug traffickers.
Since October 2013, security forces from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Belize, and the U.S., Belize, as well as seven other countries, have cooperated in Operacion Martillo, a joint effort to fight drug trafficking in Central America.
Operación Martillo was launched in January 2012. Between then and the end of January 2014, the security initiative had removed more than $5.6 billion in drugs and drug-related equipment, such as narco-boats, from the global drug trade, U.S. military officials have said.
In addition to this we should add: rampant governmental corruption, a justice system that leans toward one sector alone in most cases, while those who are financially "powerful" are untouchable, and if one happens to be arrested, the justice system itself turns it into a media circus and then it goes away as if nothing had happened. Later they can be seen parading up and down the boulevards with security guards. That is the reality of our dear country, meanwhile justice continues to be sold to the highest bidder. I very much agree that drug trafficking and organized crime should be fought from every possible quarter but I do not agree that we should be fighting for an islet such as Isla Conejo. But, on the other hand, we're giving up large amounts of territory to foreigners who buy it, it's true. But those of us who were born here and who will die here why don't we have a penny to rub we don't have access to decent housing. We have served our homeland from guarding its territorial integrity when we've done mandatory military service but we're excluded from so many benefits that a reservist enjoys in other nations as your servant. I, as a citizen of this country, all I ask from Mr. President Juan Orlando Hernandez is that he won't forget uabout us because the day we enter into war with any of our neighboring country, we are the ones who will stick our necks ou. You have enough money to grab your suitcases and your family to leave the country. We don't thank you. If they would do something productive with what they use to level the narcos, in other words, help the poor people instead of putting it all in their pockets, those shameless government leaders themselves and if it were so it's better to leave the narcos in peace because what they do is to create an example. Anyway, in the end each one kills himself the way he wants to and as he saying goes, "he who dies of his own foolishness should be buried standing up".