HomeNewsAnalysisTop Honduras Drug Trafficker Captured in Guatemala
ANALYSIS

Top Honduras Drug Trafficker Captured in Guatemala

ELITES AND CRIME / 6 MAR 2017 BY STEVEN DUDLEY EN

A little-known, but powerful Honduran underworld figure was arrested in Guatemala on March 4, leading to yet another reconfiguration in an already shaken underworld and sparking intrigue as to what he can reveal about his political networks in both countries.

Víctor Hugo Díaz Morales, alias "El Rojo," was captured along the Próceres Boulevard and 16th Street in Guatemala City, according to a Guatemalan Interior Ministry press release.

The ministry says Díaz Morales is facing drug trafficking charges in the Southern District of New York. Díaz Morales goes by at least two other names: Víctor Manuel Villegas Castillo and Víctor Manuel Villela.

Díaz Morales and his criminal organization operates mostly along the Guatemala-Honduras border, according to Honduras and Guatemalan authorities who spoke to InSight Crime on condition of anonymity during the course of the investigation into the alleged trafficker's activities.

Over the last few years, Díaz Morales was thought to be operating mostly from Honduras, but the walls seemed to be closing in on him.

Last September, US counter-narcotics agents were fired at numerous times at close range with high-powered assault weapons in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, allegedly by Díaz Morales' men who were startled by the agents' presence. (See photo below)17-03-05-honduras-dea-car-shot-up

InSight Crime Analysis

Díaz Morales' arrest adds his name to a growing list of low-profile but powerful underworld figures whose absence leaves a hole in the distribution chain of cocaine through Central America.

In Honduras, Díaz Morales' organization worked from Gracias, Lempira, according to the Honduras Attorney General's Office. The prosecutor's office also said that he became the most important operator in western Honduras following the arrests of several members of the Valle Valle clan and the arrest of Héctor Emilio Fernández, alias "Don H."

Díaz Morales once worked for Fernández before the two split, according to El Heraldo. Fernández was extradited in February 2015, and may have provided key elements in the search for Díaz Morales. (Pictured below)17-03-05-el-rojo 

Fernández was not the only one in custody with information on Díaz Morales. Among Díaz Morales' allies was Wilter Neptalí Blanco Ruíz. Blanco was arrested in Costa Rica in November 2016, and, like Díaz Morales, is awaiting extradition to the United States.

Before their arrests, Blanco's and Díaz Morales' operation was considered the strongest in Honduras, using a network that allegedly included politicians, police and military personnel. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández is from Gracias, Lempira. And Hernández's brother, Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernández -- who is a congressman -- was ensnared in the investigation that led to the capture of Blanco, when a US Drug Enforcement Administration agent allegedly questioned a suspect about the congressman's involvement in Blanco's network.

During InSight Crime's inquiries about the Blanco case, a US Embassy official said the president's brother was a "person of interest" in the case. Tony Hernández denied any criminal activity.  

For their part, Guatemalan authorities told InSight Crime Díaz Morales operated in the Esquipula, Chiquimula corridor. According to Guatemalan Interior Ministry sources, his allies once included Horst Walther Overdick, who was extradited to the United States in December 2012.  

Together, Overdick and Díaz Morales allegedly made deals with mayors who were seeking to benefit from the movement of cocaine through their municipalities, ministry sources told InSight Crime. 

With Díaz Morales and Blanco in custody and awaiting extradition, US authorities can begin to unspool the networks of political and security forces in both countries that allowed for the creation of such a powerful drug trafficking organization.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 3 SEP 2021

A Guatemalan court has issued an arrest warrant for exiled anti-corruption prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval, ending any chance that he…

BRAZIL / 28 OCT 2016

On October 27, InSight Crime published an analysis comparing recent corruption scandals involving former presidents in Guatemala and…

BRAZIL / 30 JUL 2015

Anti-corruption movements across Latin America has been a key development in 2015, and has shaken political elites from Guatemala to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…