HomeNewsBriefHonduras Takes New Approach to Combating Extortion
BRIEF

Honduras Takes New Approach to Combating Extortion

EXTORTION / 24 FEB 2016 BY ELISE DITTA EN

In a series of raids across Honduras authorities seized over 100 assets derived from an extortion ring that allegedly included MS13 members and government officials, reportedly the first operation of its kind in the country.

In the early morning hours of February 23, law enforcement agents headed by the Criminal Investigation Agency (Agencia de Investigación Criminal - ATIC) of the Public Ministry (Ministerio Publico - MP) carried out 42 raids against the extortion ring, arresting ten people and seizing 102 assets, including homes and cars, reported El Heraldo. Authorities also seized 13 businesses that were allegedly used to launder extortion money for the MS13 street gang. 

According to Attorney General Óscar Fernando Chinchilla, this is the first time authorities have seized assets financed by extortion revenue. Dubbed "Operation Avalanche" by authorities, the task force comprised of 700 law enforcement agents is aimed at dismantling an MS13 network, according to El Heraldo.  

Among those arrested is the mayor of the town of Talanga, who is accused of illicit association and money laundering, and an ex-police officer who was removed from the force four years ago after failing a polygraph test. 

An unidentified source told El Heraldo that US authorities assisted in the operation after officials detected "suspicious transfers of money from Honduras to some North American cities."

InSight Crime Analysis

If Honduran authorities continue to target the financial side of extortion networks, as Chinchilla indicated following the raids, this could signal a new type of crackdown against the MS13.

Most security operations against street gangs are aimed at reclaiming territorial control and other law and order tactics that fall under the "Mano Dura," or Iron Fist approach. In contrast, asset seizures are generally reserved for drug trafficking organizations such as the Valles and the Cachiros, both of which had a large number of assets seized from them by Honduran authorities in the last two years. 

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

This new strategy may turn out to be more effective than Mano Dura, which has been criticized for inadvertently strengthening Central America's gangs. As a recent InSight Crime field investigation in Honduras found, all of the country's major street gangs count extortion as one of their principal sources of revenue.  

Indeed, extortion has become an increasingly lucrative criminal industry in the Northern Triangle region (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras). According to statistics from Honduras' Chamber of Commerce, residents of the Northern Triangle paid over $650 million in extortion fees last year. 

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

EXTORTION / 14 SEP 2011

Proceso magazine reports that its latest edition, which features a cover article on the “sinister history” of a casino magnate…

EL SALVADOR / 26 APR 2019

El Salvador’s groundbreaking "Operación Jaque" (Operation Check) has provided a wealth of information on the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), revealing the…

BARRIO 18 / 1 NOV 2016

El Salvador's Attorney General indicated that his office may investigate the recently revealed meetings between two high-level government officials and gang…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…