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. 

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

DISPLACEMENT / 2 MAR 2016

Several new reports highlight crime and violence as key factors driving large numbers of Central American citizens to migrate to…

BOLIVIA / 14 MAY 2013

Brazilian and Bolivian government ministers will plan joint initiatives in fighting organized crime during meetings this week in Santa Cruz, a…

BRAZIL / 26 FEB 2019

Killings by police in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro nearly doubled in January 2019 when compared to the previous month -- suggesting…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.