HomeNewsBriefHonduras Arrests Gang Member Thought to Already Be in Prison
BRIEF

Honduras Arrests Gang Member Thought to Already Be in Prison

HONDURAS / 5 JUN 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

Authorities in Honduras are investigating whether a recently captured alleged gang member escaped from prison unnoticed by swapping his identity with another inmate, a situation that raises questions about corruption and incompetence in the country's penitentiary system.

An alleged leader of the Barrio 18 gang, José Virgilio Sánchez Montoya, alias "Pechocho," was captured by authorities on May 27 despite the fact that he should have been serving a 500-year sentence for alleged ties to a massacre of 17 people, reported El Heraldo.

Authorities had originally touted the incident as a case of mistaken identity. Representatives of the country's National Prison Institute (Instituto Nacional Penitenciario – INP) insisted that Pechocho never left the El Pozo penitentiary.

"This was a capture, not a recapture ... because nobody escaped from El Pozo," German McNiel, INP deputy director, was reported by La Prensa as saying.

However, fingerprint tests confirmed the Pechocho arrested on May 27 was in fact supposed to be detained in the maximum-security El Pozo prison. Sources told La Prensa that Pechocho had escaped from El Pozo two months ago.

The INP has said that it will investigate the possibility that this was a case of identity fraud. The INP said new tests will be carried out to establish the real identity of the suspect captured on May 27 and an individual who was already serving time in El Pozo under the same name. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The fact that Honduran authorities seem at a loss to explain the confusion surrounding Pechocho and his apparent escape speaks volumes about the severe problems affecting the country's prisons.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

Authorities in Honduras have already warned that criminals have begun to exchange their names and aliases with individuals with similar physical features in order to avoid prison and operate undisturbed in the outside world. If Pechocho's escape involved this type of identity fraud, it would indicate that even El Pozo -- supposedly one of the most secure penitentiaries in the country -- is vulnerable to this kind of scam.

It is also possible that corruption or simple incompetence could be part of the explanation. The extent of the dysfunction in Honduras' prison system was put on display last month by the escape of more than 60 prisoners in just two weeks from various detention facilities.

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

CACHIROS / 31 MAR 2021

A judge in the United States sentenced the brother of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández to life in prison for…

EL SALVADOR / 11 MAY 2021

A new report suggests women are increasingly playing an active role in the extortion activities of Central American gangs --…

ECUADOR / 30 SEP 2021

Ecuador is reeling from its worst-ever prison massacre in Guayaquil but the factors that led to this situation could well…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…