Properties Seized from Organized Crime Groups Benefit Hondurans

Properties Seized from Organized Crime Groups Benefit Hondurans

By Dialogo
January 30, 2015





In recent years, Honduran security forces have seized properties and other assets worth tens of millions of dollars from organized crime leaders and groups. The Honduran Administrative Office of Seized Assets (OABI) is working to make the most effective use of the confiscated assets, which include luxury homes, cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and even a zoo.

Through the OABI, the government of Honduras is using seized properties for a variety of purposes which benefit the Honduran civilian population. For example, the government is using some seized buildings as office space or factories, which provide employment opportunities and stimulate the local economy, according to Claudia Solórzano, public relations director for the OABI.

“The employment benefit resulting by keeping projects like these up and running is incalculable because it allows citizens to keep earning a salary and supporting their families with dignity,” said Edgardo Mejía, a private security consultant.

These job opportunities are made possible because Honduran security forces confiscate properties that belonged to organized crime groups and leaders on the orders of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP). Under Honduran law, the OABI can distribute 45 percent of the seized assets in a way that would benefit the security and justice sector, and another 45 percent in a manner that would help crime-prevention efforts. The remaining 10 percent of seized properties would benefit the OABI management sector.

For example, residential property that security forces seized from the family of Ramón Matta Ballesteros, a convicted drug trafficker who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in the United States, is being used provisionally as office space for the OABI.

It also benefits from other kinds of seized assets. For example, in October 2014, President Juan Orlando Hernández donated 35 cars, including eight which were provided by the OABI, to the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP).

The OABI operates a zoo


One of the most unusual assets security forces have seized from organized crime and provided to the OABI is a zoo.

Police seized the Joya Grande Ecopark and Zoo after the U.S. Treasury Department identified it as being an illicit asset.

Rather than dismantling the zoo and using the property for another purpose, the government signed a lease agreement with veterinarians who worked there to keep the facility open for the public.

The zoo also provides a steady source of employment for 70 people, whileremaining under the supervision of the OABI, Solórzano explained. It does not cost taxpayers any money. Joya Grande is “self-sustaining and earns approximately $3,000 a month, which covers salaries and maintenance of the facilities and animals,” María Díaz, a veterinarian and manager of Joya Grande Zoo said.

Keeping the zoo open also benefits the public. About 65,000 people, Hondurans and foreign tourists, visit the facility every year to view about 58 species of animals, including a rare white tiger, according toDíaz . Overall, the facility is home to more than 300 animals, including some species which are not native to the Americas.

The cost of a day visit to Joya Grande is $12 for adults and $7 for children.

Visitors can also rent one of the 18 family cabins at the zoo for prices ranging between $184 and $360 a night, which includes breakfast, access to the zoo and its 293-acre ecopark, which offers such activities as horseback riding, bird watching, hiking through forests and caves, and go-kart rides. If not, the zoo has also offers a menu with affordable options, such as lunches for $5.

Assistance for young people fighting drug addiction


In addition to helping the economy by using seized facilities to provide jobs, the OABI also provides assistance to efforts which help adolescents who are suffering from drug dependency.

“The OABI also supports non-state centers dedicated to rehabilitation for youth addicted to drugs, such as Project Victory, and has donated $36,951 to this project and other institutions to build a gym, eight duplex apartments for housing inpatient youth, access roads to the city center, and equipment for the computer room,” Solórzano said.






In recent years, Honduran security forces have seized properties and other assets worth tens of millions of dollars from organized crime leaders and groups. The Honduran Administrative Office of Seized Assets (OABI) is working to make the most effective use of the confiscated assets, which include luxury homes, cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and even a zoo.

Through the OABI, the government of Honduras is using seized properties for a variety of purposes which benefit the Honduran civilian population. For example, the government is using some seized buildings as office space or factories, which provide employment opportunities and stimulate the local economy, according to Claudia Solórzano, public relations director for the OABI.

“The employment benefit resulting by keeping projects like these up and running is incalculable because it allows citizens to keep earning a salary and supporting their families with dignity,” said Edgardo Mejía, a private security consultant.

These job opportunities are made possible because Honduran security forces confiscate properties that belonged to organized crime groups and leaders on the orders of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP). Under Honduran law, the OABI can distribute 45 percent of the seized assets in a way that would benefit the security and justice sector, and another 45 percent in a manner that would help crime-prevention efforts. The remaining 10 percent of seized properties would benefit the OABI management sector.

For example, residential property that security forces seized from the family of Ramón Matta Ballesteros, a convicted drug trafficker who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in the United States, is being used provisionally as office space for the OABI.

It also benefits from other kinds of seized assets. For example, in October 2014, President Juan Orlando Hernández donated 35 cars, including eight which were provided by the OABI, to the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP).

The OABI operates a zoo


One of the most unusual assets security forces have seized from organized crime and provided to the OABI is a zoo.

Police seized the Joya Grande Ecopark and Zoo after the U.S. Treasury Department identified it as being an illicit asset.

Rather than dismantling the zoo and using the property for another purpose, the government signed a lease agreement with veterinarians who worked there to keep the facility open for the public.

The zoo also provides a steady source of employment for 70 people, whileremaining under the supervision of the OABI, Solórzano explained. It does not cost taxpayers any money. Joya Grande is “self-sustaining and earns approximately $3,000 a month, which covers salaries and maintenance of the facilities and animals,” María Díaz, a veterinarian and manager of Joya Grande Zoo said.

Keeping the zoo open also benefits the public. About 65,000 people, Hondurans and foreign tourists, visit the facility every year to view about 58 species of animals, including a rare white tiger, according toDíaz . Overall, the facility is home to more than 300 animals, including some species which are not native to the Americas.

The cost of a day visit to Joya Grande is $12 for adults and $7 for children.

Visitors can also rent one of the 18 family cabins at the zoo for prices ranging between $184 and $360 a night, which includes breakfast, access to the zoo and its 293-acre ecopark, which offers such activities as horseback riding, bird watching, hiking through forests and caves, and go-kart rides. If not, the zoo has also offers a menu with affordable options, such as lunches for $5.

Assistance for young people fighting drug addiction


In addition to helping the economy by using seized facilities to provide jobs, the OABI also provides assistance to efforts which help adolescents who are suffering from drug dependency.

“The OABI also supports non-state centers dedicated to rehabilitation for youth addicted to drugs, such as Project Victory, and has donated $36,951 to this project and other institutions to build a gym, eight duplex apartments for housing inpatient youth, access roads to the city center, and equipment for the computer room,” Solórzano said.


Excellent That is the best thing they could do This needs to be seen in health and education. Otherwise we're left the same or worse. It's the best he can do Excellent I like how the police are developing. Very positive. I wish they would do it all over the country so they would motivate the police on my behalf for their good work but I repeat, they have to do it. Not just say it. That is how faith is built where I'm from. Thank you.
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