HomeNewsBriefHonduras Extortionists are Targeting Bigger Companies
BRIEF

Honduras Extortionists are Targeting Bigger Companies

EXTORTION / 31 AUG 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Honduras’ private sector is calling for police to step up action against extortion in response to a series of aggressive attacks by criminals seeking payments from larger companies, an apparent shift in target for extortionists in the country.

On August 26, unidentified assailants in Comayagüela threw a Molotov cocktail at a building belonging to Camiones y Motores S.A. (Camosa), a distributor for agricultural machinery, such as John Deere tractors, reported El Heraldo.

The attack followed another that took place on August 18, when assailants shot out windows of a Camosa store and left a threatening note demanding extortion payments.

According to La Tribuna, the two attacks form part of a series of incidents in recent months whereby extortionists have targeted larger, well-known companies in Honduras that produce items such as bread, milk, and coffee. On August 29 and 30, for instance, two trucks belonging to a grocery distributor were burned in Tegucigalpa, with extortionists leaving behind notes demanding payment of the so called “war tax,” or extortion fee.

In response, Armando Urtecho, director of the Honduran Private Enterprise Council (Consejo Hondureño de la Empresa Privada – COHEP), has called on businesses to abstain from paying extortion fees and to report any criminal activity.

Urtecho also lamented what he viewed as lack of police action to combat extortion, and challenged authorities to be more rigorous in applying the law. He noted Honduras’ large, national-level distribution companies are now incurring extra costs to protect themselves from criminals; something he fears may deter investment in the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

Honduras has long struggled to rein in extortion, a largely gang-driven phenomenon that is estimated to result in total economic losses of $200 million per year — about 1 percent of Honduras’ gross national product — including associated costs like increased security.  

Previously, however, the favored targets of Honduran extortionists have been small- to medium-sized businesses. This has been particularly true for companies within  the transportation sector, which, according to a 2014 government study, pay an estimated $27 million a year. Bus and taxi operators have been a favorite target of the gangs. In 2016 to date, roughly 30 buses have been burned by extortionists in Honduras, a form of intimidation and retribution for those who fail to pay up.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extortion 

Recent incidents, however, suggest extortionists are becoming more bolder and more ambitious, and are moving beyond small businesses and transportation companies to target larger, well-established companies with a national reach. While doing so may produce higher paydays for criminals in the short-term, it is also likely to draw heightened scrutiny to the issue and trigger crackdowns by law enforcement.  

Indeed, despite COHEP’s criticism, it does appear Honduran authorities are making some progress in combatting the extortion industry. Over 400 people have been arrested this year on charges of extorting transportation organizations.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 18 SEP 2020

Catacamas is the largest municipality in Central America, home to thousands of square kilometers of pristine forest. Political elites in…

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…

EL SALVADOR / 6 MAR 2017

Over the past several years, the United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on crime and violence prevention…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…