Police: Arms Seized in Honduras Were Destined for Mexico’s Los Zetas
By Dialogo May 24, 2013
Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel was receiving high-powered weapons from a woman in San Pedro Sula, Honduran police said following an April 10 raid on the woman’s home.
The raid yielded two M-60 machine guns, 15 grenades, two vehicles and a kilo of cocaine. Authorities said the weapons were probably going to be sent to Los Zetas, a transnational criminal organization that is now active in Honduras.
Honduran police and agents with the District Attorney’s Office Against Organized Crime arrested 41-year-old Claudia Maria Zepeda Lardy.
“The Office Against Organized Crime presumes these weapons were destined for the group known as Los Zetas, which we believe operates in Honduras too,” said Elvis Guzmán, a spokesman for the Public Ministry. “They were going to be handed over by the detainee.”
Weeks of vigilance
Honduran police investigated Zepeda Lardy for weeks before obtaining a judicial search warrant, said Guzmán, the Public Ministry spokesman.
Undercover police had been conducting surveillance on Zepeda Lardy for more than a month before detaining her, authorities said. Police had received a tip that illicit activities were occurring at her home, officials said.
When she was arrested, she told police that she didn’t know weapons were being stored in her house. She then asked for an attorney and stopped talking to investigators, said police spokesman Oscar Aguilar.
Police are investigating where the weapons came from, Aguilar said, adding that the Honduran military took custody of the firearms and grenades.
Zepeda Lardy is charged with illegal possession of weapons of war, said Guzmán. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison.
Mexican drug cartels operate in Central America
Los Zetas and other transnational criminal organizations have operated in Central America for years, using drug trafficking routes in the region.
In July 2012, Guatemala’s Court of Constitutionality granted a request by Mexican authorities to extradite Daniel Perez Rojas, one of the original founding members of Los Zetas.
Perez Rojas, known as “Cachetes,” was serving a 47-year prison sentence in Guatemala for killing 11 suspected rival drug traffickers in March 2008. El Cachetes was a trusted lieutenant to Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, who was the Los Zetas kingpin at the time. In October 2012, Marines in Progreso, Coahuila killed Lazcano, who was known as “The Executioner,” “El Lazca” and “Z-3,” during a gun battle in Progreso, Coahuila.
Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, known as “Commander 40” and “40,” replaced The Executioner as the leader of Los Zetas. Los Zetas moved into Guatemala in 2007, forming an alliance with Guatemalan drug kingpin Horst Walther Overdick, who is known as “El Tigre.” Los Zetas and El Tigre used violence to attain control of drug traffikcing routes in Guatemala. In April 2012, Guatemalan security forces captured El Tigre.
In January 2013, Honduran security forces seized an arsenal of weapons worth an estimated $2 million at a ranch in Choloma, near San Pedro Sula. Among the arms confiscated was a gold-plated, AK-47 military assault rifle encrusted with diamonds and emeralds worth about $50,000. Honduran authorities suspect the weapons were destined for Los Zetas.