HomeNewsBriefHonduras Authorities Seize Assets of 'Top MS13 Money Launderer'
BRIEF

Honduras Authorities Seize Assets of 'Top MS13 Money Launderer'

HONDURAS / 21 OCT 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

Authorities in Honduras have identified an individual they say is the top money launderer for the MS13 gang in that country, a development that illustrates the potential of investigations that target the financial structures of criminal groups.

An investigation by the Attorney General's Office has indentified Óscar Efraín Cortés Cabrera as the man in charge of laundering illicit proceeds the gang earned from extortion, drug trafficking and other criminal activities, El Heraldo reported.

Reports reviewed by the news outlet allege that gang members would bring black bags filled with cash to Cabrera's office at a car dealership he owned. From there, Cabrera would launder the money through real estate purchases, business investments and even donations to churches.

Cabrera was targeted as part of phase two of "Operation Avalanche" ("Operación Avalancha II"), a security operation begun earlier this year aimed at dismantling important MS13 structures.

Authorities seized 22 pieces of property from Cabrera, including several luxury homes and his car dealership, where they also confiscated 232 vehicles and more than $2.2 million worth of cash.

Despite the large scale of the operation against Cabrera, it remains unclear whether or not he has been formally charged with any crimes.

"I cannot refer to that because the investigation is ongoing and that is still under analysis," a source close to the investigation told El Heraldo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Operation Avalanche represents something of a new and different approach for Honduras when it comes to combating the gangs operating in the country. As InSight Crime previously noted, past anti-gang operations have largely focused on reclaiming physical territory from these groups and arresting their members. Targeting the gang's financial structures could ultimately prove to be a more effective long-term strategy for reducing the gangs' extensive power and influence.

SEE ALSO: MS13 News and Profile

In addition, Operation Avalanche has revealed the growing sophistication of the MS13 as a criminal organization. Evidence obtained during the operation has lent weight to the argument that the gang is becoming more deeply involved in the transnational drug trade. And the extensive money laundering activities uncovered thus far show the group is becoming savvier about hiding the illicit origins of their earnings. Press reports suggest the MS13 may even be laundering money in the United States, where the ease of establishing shell companies has proven an attraction for criminal groups across Latin America.

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

COLOMBIA / 14 JUL 2017

Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world for activists fighting for their land or trying…

BARRIO 18 / 3 FEB 2014

A group of Guatemala bus extortionists recently sentenced to prison were apparently paying a quota to street gangs, suggesting the…

EL SALVADOR / 8 JUN 2018

A new report has again ranked Latin America and the Caribbean as the least secure region in the world for…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…