Honduras' police chief has declared that $800 million seized from the Cachiros drug trafficking group is just the first phase of the operation, although with no arrests yet made, doubts over what "phase two" will entail remain.
According to Police Chief Juan Carlos "El Tigre" Bonilla, "there will be a second phase," after the country's office of the Special Prosecutor Against Organized Crime declared the recovery of 17 properties and numerous bank accounts to be the end of the seizures, reported La Prensa.
While 61 properties were identified as belonging to the group, Bonilla said 44 remained vacant so did not need to be occupied by authorities.
The operation represents a victory for US authorities, after the US Treasury released a statement on September 19 adding leaders of the Cachiros to their "kingpin list" of drug traffickers, in an apparent move to pressure Honduran authorities to act against the group.
InSight Crime Analysis
The Cachiros are a group of "transportistas" (transporters), who move drugs for various illegal groups, rather than purchasing and distributing drugs in the manner of a cartel. However, as demonstrated by these seizures, their activities are extremely lucrative. They have been reported to control up to 90 percent of the clandestine landing strips in Honduras and earn around $2,000 for every kilo of cocaine moved, adding up to astronomical sums. They are also believed to have ties to Honduras' political and social elites, explaining how they have amassed such wealth without ever being targeted.
SEE ALSO: Honduras News
The move against the Cachiros by Honduran authorities comes almost four months after the US Treasury added the group to its list of specially designated drug trafficking groups, and sources indicate authorities from both countries have been working together closely on the case. However, with none of the group's key members under arrest and the seizures apparently ended, this begs the question of what exactly "phase two" will be. If previous events in Honduras are anything to go by, it would not be surprising to see the matter swept under the carpet by the authorities, and it may yet fall on the United States to keep up the pressure if the seizures are to be the beginning and not the end of the case.