HomeNewsBriefShootout Prompts Militarization of Honduras Prisons
BRIEF

Shootout Prompts Militarization of Honduras Prisons

HONDURAS / 6 AUG 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

In the wake of a prison shootout that left three dead in Honduras, authorities have announced increased security measures to prevent more arms from entering the jail system, where a lack of internal security and appalling conditions continue to fuel violence.

Three prisoners were killed and 12 others injured in an August 2 confrontation in the Marco Aurelio Soto National Prison in Tamara, outside Tegucigalpa, in which AK-47 assault rifles and grenades were used. 

According to officials cited by Univision, the confrontation occurred after one prisoner pointed a gun at a Barrio 18 gang member, provoking a violent retaliation, while La Tribuna reported that shots came from members of both the Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gangs.

Following the incident, the military and police have taken control of internal security for a 90-day period in the Tamara prison and San Pedro Sula prisons, reported La Nacion. The government also announced plans to begin classifying prisoners and recording prisoners' phone calls, reported La Prensa.

While investigating the incident, authorities found AK-47s, Mini Uzis, 40 caliber revolvers and 11 fragmentation grenades, and said that there were more weapons hidden in arms caches in the walls and floors of the prison, according to La Tribuna. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The Honduran prison system is severely overcrowded and violence is endemic, with the country recording the highest number of prisoner deaths in Central America between 2011 and 2012 (although this number was inflated by a prison fire that killed hundreds). A recently released report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stated that 11,709 prisoners were being held in a system built for 8,120, with only four of 24 prisons under capacity.

The IACHR report also noted a lack of monitoring and transparency as serious problems, with internal security often controlled by prisoners themselves. The Marco Aurelio Soto prison is effectively controlled by "bulls" -- inmate bosses --, who charge taxes and dole out punishments to other prisoners. Any attempts to break this criminal stranglehold on prison life will likely face fierce resistance -- and may well have been a factor in the recent violence.

Whether the recent outbreak of violence was related to gang rivalries or tensions with the authories, it does not bode well for the country's nascent gang truce -- which will require backing from the mostly incarcerated gang leadership to function.

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 / 1 APR 2014

Reports that an imprisoned Rio de Janeiro kingpin maintained drug trafficking operations in the city's largest pacified slum with the…

COCA / 26 MAY 2017

Authorities have located coca plantations in Honduras, a sign that the Central American nation could be evolving from its traditional…

BELIZE / 1 OCT 2013

Islands off the coasts of Honduras and Belize, two of the poorest Central American nations, offer drug traffickers respite and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…