HomeNewsBriefHonduras' 'Operation Avalanche' Suggests MS13 Sophistication
BRIEF

Honduras' 'Operation Avalanche' Suggests MS13 Sophistication

HONDURAS / 2 MAR 2016 BY LUCIA BIRD EN

An ongoing security operation against the Mara Salvatrucha in Honduras has uncovered evidence that suggests the street gang is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

"Operation Avalanche" -- a Honduran police operation targeting the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) street gang -- has led to the discovery and seizure of large quantities of precursor chemicals that allegedly belong to the MS13, reported La Tribuna.

According to Ricardo Castro, director of Honduras' Technical Agency of Criminal Investigation (Agencia Técnica de Investigación Criminal - ATIC), these chemicals are imported from Colombia, processed into drugs, repackaged, and exported back to Colombia.

Castro said the MS13 derives a significant portion of its wealth from this criminal activity, and invests the illicit money in assets such as houses, vehicles, chemicals, and transport companies, among other things.

In addition, Castro noted close links between MS13 counterparts in Honduras and El Salvador, reported El Diaro de Hoy. For instance, authorities believe an MS13 leader arrested in San Pedro Sula recently, Denis Adalid Paguaga Puerto, had been living in El Salvador.

Honduran authorities have also linked four mayors to criminal involvement with the MS13. Preliminary investigations suggest the MS13 funded the electoral campaigns of the mayors, who in exchange facilitated the operations of MS13 in their municipality.

Overall, Operation Avalanche has resulted in the seizure of 112 assets and an array of weapons, while $575,000 has been confiscated and $220,000 frozen in bank accounts, reported La Tribuna. Twelve suspects have also been put under arrest since the operation began early last week.  

InSight Crime Analysis

The findings of Operation Avalanche lend weight to claims the MS13 is becoming an increasingly sophisticated and structured transnational criminal organization. Such claims have been robustly supported by Douglas Farah in a recent piece published by Foreign Policy, and reprinted here at InSight Crime.

SEE ALSO: MS13 News and Profile

The MS13's apparent role in trafficking drugs into Colombia supports Farah's suggestion that the group is in some cases "displacing traditional transport networks," and moving beyond simple drug distribution.

MS13's trans-border structure appears to function as a franchise, in which each geographical group, or "clica," retains significant autonomy while maintaining links as well as sharing goals and modus operandi. The MS13 are incontrovertibly united in their rivalry with the Barrio 18 gang, which is also present in both Honduras and El Salvador. However, their cross-border ties appear to go well beyond this.

Recent InSight Crime investigations suggest that certain Salvadoran MS13 leaders have established satellite operators in Honduras, or use the country as operational headquarters in their bid to manage operations in the international drug trade.

In another illustration of the porous nature of the gangs' territorial divisions, reports also emerged during 2015 of MS13 members fleeing tough anti-gang policies in El Salvador and establishing themselves in neighboring Honduras. Such a phenomenon, typically referred to as the "cockroach effect" -- whereby criminal groups facing pressure in one region move to an area of lower resistance -- has also been detected with the movement of Barrio 18 members from El Salvador to Guatemala.

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.

Tags

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

EL SALVADOR / 15 FEB 2021

Hopes are high in the Northern Triangle, that the arrival of Joseph Biden and his administration to the White House…

BARRIO 18 / 12 APR 2022

With a near unprecedented wave of arrests, the El Salvador government is doubling down and expanding on heavy-handed security policies,…

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 FEB 2021

Federal prosecutors have specified in a recently filed court document that Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has been under investigation…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…