Two leaders of the notorious Valle Valle family now find themselves in US custody, extradited from Honduras a little over two months after their capture. The question now is what about the other top-level traffickers still at large?
On December 18, the brothers Miguel Arnulfo and Luis Alonso Valle Valle were flown to the US and were being held in Virginia, reported Tiempo. Prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida await the brothers -- the leaders of a clan that was once responsible for moving upwards of 10 tons of cocaine through this country per month -- who face charges of trafficking illicit substances to the United States.
The brothers were captured in the country's western border province of Copan in a joint operation involving Honduran special forces, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Guatemalan authorities.
SEE ALSO: Valles Profile
The Valle brothers' extradition brings the total number of Hondurans sent to the United States on drug trafficking charges this year to four. The others were Carlos "El Negro" Lobo in May and Juving Alexander Suazo Peralta in October.
InSight Crime Analysis
The extradition of the Valle brothers closes a chapter on a group that six months ago was at the top of the criminal food chain in Honduras. But the quick turnaround between the capture and extradition of the Valle brothers raises a question as well: why hasn't the government captured other high-level traffickers such as the Cachiros, Jose Miguel "Chepe" Handal, and Alexander Ardon?
The answer might be simple: there are no known charges against any of them in the United States or Honduras.
The notion is stupefying when presented with the traffickers' profiles. The Cachiros, which is the nickname of the Rivera Maradiaga clan, was placed on the US Kingpin list over a year ago by the US Treasury and had an estimated $500 million in assets seized in September 2013. At its height, it was thought to move between 5 and 10 tons of cocaine through Honduras per month.
SEE ALSO: Cachiros News and Profile
"Chepe Handal" was put on the Kingpin list in April 2013 for running a transport group similar to that of the Cachiros. The former mayor of El Paraiso, Copan, Alexander Ardon -- believed to be the namesake of the "Cartel de Alex," which reportedly had strong ties to the Valles -- is considered a large trafficker in his own right and a major ally of the Sinaloa Cartel.
There is, of course, the strong belief that the US is preparing to file charges against these criminal figures or has sealed the indictments related to them. In the meantime, there are only questions and idle security forces awaiting orders.