HomeNewsBriefHas Honduras Shutdown its Cocaine Air Bridge?
BRIEF

Has Honduras Shutdown its Cocaine Air Bridge?

HONDURAS / 2 OCT 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

Honduran officials claim to have blocked nearly all drug flights through their airspace as part of improved interdiction efforts, a claim backed by their US allies. If true there must have been a switch in cocaine trafficking routes.

Only two drug flights have landed in Honduras so far this year, a 98 percent reduction from the 106 in 2011, El Nuevo Diario quoted Police Operations Chief Hector Ivan Mejia as saying. 

The reduction is part of improved anti-narcotics efforts following the launch of an air, sea and land interdiction program in 2014 as well as cooperation with US authorities, Mejia was quoted as saying. 

General John Kelly, the head of US Southern Command, has issued similar optimistic statements. A few years ago “the majority of cocaine, by sea or air, arrived in Honduras, before passing through Guatemala and onto Mexico,” Kelly said in an interview with El Heraldo

However cooperation between US and Honduran security forces greatly increased with the arrival of President Juan Orlando Hernandez in 2014. As a result “Honduras is no longer the number one country, it’s number five in terms of drug arrivals,” Kelly said. 

InSight Crime Analysis

While it is always difficult to accurately ascertain figures on clandestine activities like drug flights, there are reasons to believe Honduras’ air security has improved. 

In the wake of Honduras’ 2009 coup, the United States suspended cooperation on drug operations. Drug flights reportedly began to surge through the then-radarless Honduras. 

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

In 2014 Honduras greatly improved its air interdiction capabilities with the purchase of mobile radar towers and a new law allowing authorities to shoot down suspicious aircraft. Meanwhile, as Kelly noted, US-Honduran relations normalized, with the Central American nation once again receiving US drug cooperation. 

On the local scene, Honduras has been able to capture and extradite numerous high-level traffickers. This has included leadership of Honduras’ top criminal groups the Valles and the Cachiros. These extraditions have reportedly thrown the Honduran underworld into chaos, which likely makes it harder to safely land drug flights without fear of being robbed by other criminals. 

So while it’s likely Honduras has sharply curtailed its once busy cocaine air bridge, it remains to be seen how traffickers will adjust. Authorities in neighboring El Salvador believe traffickers are increasingly turning to maritime routes in response to greater air and land interdiction efforts. Traffickers in Honduras, which has an even longer coastline, may take a similar tactic. 

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 11 NOV 2011

In an effort to increase its capacity to crack down on Latin American drug syndicates, the U.S. government has set…

INFOGRAPHICS / 11 SEP 2014

Kidnapping is the most troublesome security problem facing Mexico’s government, and a breakdown of kidnapping reports by a watchdog group…

BRAZIL / 9 FEB 2016

As the Olympics approach, Rio’s vaunted Pacifying Police Units (Unidad de Polícia Pacificadora - UPPs) are likely…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…