Raids over the weekend resulted in the arrest of two alleged leaders of a powerful drug trafficking network, the culmination of a six-month investigation that may only have scratched the surface of the group's activities in Honduras.
On January 30, the Directorate for Combating Drug Trafficking (Dirección de Lucha contra el Narcotráfico - DLCN) raided 10 homes in Morazán, Yoro, as part of a larger investigation into a drug trafficking network. Among those detained were José Héctor Ardón Sarmiento and his son, Olvin Adonay Ardón Rivera, alleged leaders of a network dubbed the AA Brothers Cartel, reported El Heraldo.
Law enforcement confirmed to El Heraldo that the father and son are related to Alexander Ardón, former mayor of El Paraiso, Copan and the alleged namesake for the AA Brothers Cartel.
The raids were the result of a six-month investigation into the group's influence in the departments of Yoro and Copán, according to La Prensa. The AA criminal network not only coordinated drug flights in Yoro, but also purchased significant amounts of property in Copán, which borders Guatemala, in order to move drug shipments northwards with greater ease.
Also arrested in the raids was Otto Melvin Ramírez, a suspected member of the organization.
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The arrests are indicative of additional strides that Honduras is making in its battle against drug trafficking. Authorities captured another two members of the AA Brothers Cartel late last year, arrested Jose Miguel "Chepe" Handal in March 2015, and brought down the Valle Valle drug trafficking clan in 2014.
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However, it remains to be seen what effect the arrests might have on drug trafficking as a whole in Honduras. According to one DLCN agent, the AA Brothers Cartel grew in power and control when Honduran law enforcement captured and extradited leaders of the Valle Valle organization and the investigators have “barely scratch[ed]” the surface of the group’s structure.
The AA Brothers Cartel is thought to have close ties with the Sinaloa Cartel. The same DLCN agent also told La Prensa that the AA Brothers Cartel smuggled drug shipments to Río Hondo in Zacapa, Guatemala, where they worked with the Sinaloa Cartel to traffic to the United States.