Authorities in Honduras are investigating more than 30 local politicians for alleged ties to organized crime and drug trafficking. If narco-politics scandals in other parts of Latin America are any indication, this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
After receiving numerous reports of misconduct over the last six months, Honduras' Attorney General's Office and High Court of Auditors are set to investigate reports of abuse of authority, corruption, and links to drug trafficking among local politicians, reported Proceso Digital.
Marvin Ponce, a presidential advisor, stated that at least 35 mayors and deputy mayors are under investigation for connections to organized crime. Sources from state intelligence agencies also told local media that they were investigating at least six mayors suspected of collaborating with drug traffickers, though no specific names were given.
According to Proceso, Honduran authorities initially became suspicious when photographs surfaced that purportedly provided evidence of links between politicians from western Honduras and the Valle Valle drug trafficking clan. Officials are also investigating alleged ties between politicians from the northern coastal provinces of Colon and Atlantida and the Cachiros, one of Honduras' largest drug transport organizations.
InSight Crime Analysis
While current investigations seem to be focused primarily on the areas where the Valle Valle and Cachiros drug trafficking organizations operated, allegations of ties between local politicians and criminal organizations are likely indicative of a more generalized, nationwide problem.
Indeed, in the past, Honduras' human rights commissioner has called the country a "nest" for drug trafficking and narco-politics, and issues like the possible influence of drug money on elections are a perennial concern. Just last month, Honduran authorities arrested an alleged drug trafficker with significant links to the country's political establishment; a man who was added to the US Treasury Department's "Kingpin" list in 2013 even as he campaigned for a congressional seat.
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The collusion of drug traffickers and politicians is far from unique to Honduras. In Paraguay, the murder of a journalist in October 2014 exposed ties between politicians and drug traffickers, precipitating a narco-politics scandal. Similarly, the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico's Guerrero state last September led to the discovery of ties between a mayor and the criminal group Guerreros Unidos, with 11 other mayors in the same state implicated in criminal activity. Organized crime in Peru has also traditionally relied on corrupt politicians to guarantee impunity and facilitate its activities.
With several major Honduran drug traffickers extradited to the United States over the past year, it may be only a matter of time before more local politicians come under investigation. Four extradited Honduran drug traffickers have already indicated that they won't hesitate to name names if it gets them a lighter sentence.