HomeNewsBriefHonduras Cocaine Seizures Reveal Renewal of Drug Corridor
BRIEF

Honduras Cocaine Seizures Reveal Renewal of Drug Corridor

COCAINE / 19 AUG 2020 BY ANTONIA MCGRATH EN

Authorities in Honduras have seized more cocaine during the first seven months of this year than all of 2019, indicating a resurgence of one of Central America’s most important cocaine routes despite border shutdowns and transport restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials say 2,241 kilograms of cocaine have been seized between January and July 2020, a little more than last year’s entire haul of 2,218 kilograms, Proceso Digital reported.

Many of the seizures have taken place in La Mosquitia, a jungle region on Honduras' Caribbean coast that is a crucial corridor for cocaine heading north. In July, authorities in the department of Gracias a Dios, which encompasses La Mosquitia and borders Nicaragua, intercepted a fishing boat carrying 900 kilograms of cocaine and a small plane packed with 806 kilograms of cocaine.

SEE ALSO: Honduras Elites and Organized Crime

The region has long seen swaths of forest cut down to create clandestine airstrips that serve drug planes. The sparsely populated town of Brus Laguna in La Mosquitia is a hive of such activity, with 18 of the 23 airstrips destroyed in Honduras this year located there. Historically, the area has also been a hotbed of drug violence.

The region has also seen an increase in local cocaine production. In August, three jungle drug processing sites were dismantled in Colón, another department on Honduras' eastern coast.

InSight Crime Analysis

While seizures are not a perfect proxy for measuring drug trafficking, it's likely that the amount of cocaine traversing Honduran territory is increasing.

This is a significant reversal from 2015 when drug trafficking in the country had reportedly been reduced by 72 percent after improved military and intelligence work forced traffickers to take alternative routes, according to authorities. Security forces even proudly claimed that no more drug flights were coming through the country, La Prensa reported at the time.

SEE ALSO: Honduras Goes From Transit Nation to Cocaine Producer

At the time, a top US military official praised Honduras for its “incredible” efforts, including President Juan Orlando Hernández’s willingness to collaborate with US anti-drug operations. Victory was clearly declared prematurely, especially as Hernández himself has been named as a co-conspirator in US drug trafficking cases, including that of his own brother. Hernández has denied the accusations.

A surge in cocaine production in Colombia the past few years has likely spurred the country's return as a transport hub and smuggling route. Venezuela has also served as a launching pad for drug flights to Honduras.

A spokesman at the Public Ministry in Honduras told VICE News that collaborations with Colombian and US authorities enabled the most recent cocaine seizures.

Some four percent of cocaine shipments, or about 120 tons, that reached the United States in 2019 first made a stop by air or sea in Honduras, according to the US State Department's 2020 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

Other Central American countries are seeing a similar trend. Costa Rica and Panama have reported record high seizures recently. Guatemala seized a record 17.8 tons of cocaine in 2018, and authorities have already seized 6.5 tons of cocaine between January and July of this year, including retiring more than two tons from a narco-jet. This year, 53 suspected drug flights have already been detected.

 

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

BRAZIL / 16 JUN 2016

A key witness in Brazil's wide-ranging Petrobras corruption scandal has accused the country's interim president of soliciting illegal campaign contributions…

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 MAY 2017

Guatemala's former Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla is facing yet another set of legal charges related to his time in…

COVID AND CRIME / 1 JUN 2020

In the wake of Venezuela’s hyperinflation and economic collapse, the country has come to rely on dwindling oil exports, remittances,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…