Operation “Trueno” Scores Seizures and Arrests across Honduras
By Kay Valle/ Diálogo September 15, 2016On August 9th, the Honduran Attorney General's Office (MP, per its Spanish acronym) conducted a joint effort with the collaboration of multiple security force institutions. The action was planned in order to execute outstanding arrest warrants for people accused of various crimes. The institutions cooperating with the MP through special and regional public prosecutors' offices were the Police Investigations Department, the National Anti-Extortion Force, the Military Police of Public Order, the Honduran Air Force, the National Preventive Police, the Anti-Drug Trafficking Directorate (DLCN, per its Spanish acronym), and the Technical Criminal Investigation Agency (ATIC, per its Spanish acronym). "This multi-disciplinary effort is historic because it was carried out simultaneously in 17 departments and 28 cities across the country. Also, 1,000 MP personnel participated for the first time in a joint effort with regional and special prosecutors as well as several security forces," said Yuri Mora, spokesperson for the Attorney General's office. In addition to Tegucigalpa, Operation Thunder was carried out in the cities of San Pedro Sula, Choluteca, Trujillo, La Ceiba, Roatán, Santa Bárbara, La Esperanza, La Paz, El Progreso, Catacamas, Ocotepeque, Valle, Danlí, and Siguatepeque. The MP's spokesperson added that this operation sought to capture individuals who were trafficking in wood and endangered wildlife, as well as individuals who were still roaming free but had arrest warrants for various crimes. Dealing a blow to common criminality and organized crime, 113 simultaneous raids were executed throughout the country during this nationwide operation. This multi-disciplinary effort also allowed for the seizure of stolen automobiles and motorcycles, used mainly for committing crimes. For Mora, the operation had positive results, "because over 100 people were arrested, the majority of them with gang connections. Fifty-five automobiles that had been reported stolen were recovered, and firearms and lumber were seized." Strengthening the MP as the basis of success The success of these operations is at the heart of strengthening the MP. "The MP has been strengthened in this administration. We have an ATIC that is showing very good results. The DLCN has new officers, a bigger budget, and more technology, and 200 new public prosecutors are bolstering the work of regional and local prosecutors. All of this is strengthening the institution, and the results are apparent," Mora said. This strengthening is also rooted in planning. Mora gave the example of Operation "Avalancha" (Avalanche), which took one year to plan. It was set up to strike the MS-13 gang. However, he stressed that they had never coordinated so many security forces, and that Operation “Trueno” only took some months of planning. The institution is also strengthened by the increase in society’s trust. "Citizens have more trust from the work that has been done. Trust in the institution is coming back little by little. And one point to highlight is that many of the operations have been conducted based on complaints received from citizens," Mora stated. Another complaint tool that citizens have at their disposal is the "Dilo aquí Honduras" [Say it Here Honduras], app that was jointly created with the Association for a More Just Society (ASJ, per its Spanish acronym). This platform was designed for citizens to report acts of corruption. The app can be downloaded at ASJ's website http://asjhonduras.com/webhn/tag/denuncias-de-corrupcion-honduras/. It is available for Android and iOS systems. Protecting life and property Meanwhile, the Secretariat of Security reported that the role of the police consisted in, "protecting people’s lives and property, preventing crimes from being committed, and creating an atmosphere of peace and security, for which some 113 raids were carried out, including saturation patrols, police checkpoints, investigative activities, and the tracking of criminal organizations. The goal was to deter a series of unlawful acts against the citizenry, such as vehicle theft, extortion, drug trafficking, and murders and homicides, among other crimes." "These operations are significant, and the blows they deal to common criminality and organized crime are decisive. Similarly, the directives coming down from the Attorney General and his corps of public prosecutors are changing the face of the MP," Mora concluded.