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 / 27 MAY 2015

A spate of killings at schools in Peru that authorities say were targeted for extortion serve as a stark reminder…

BARRIO 18 / 5 OCT 2015

An in-depth look at how El Salvador's Barrio 18 runs extortion operations, as well as how members of…

BARRIO 18 / 12 JUL 2013

El Salvador and Honduras are pioneering new efforts to stop gang-related violence via truces, but there are some critical differences…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.