HomeNewsBriefHonduras Transport Companies Complicit in Extortion Schemes
BRIEF

Honduras Transport Companies Complicit in Extortion Schemes

BARRIO 18 / 27 APR 2016 BY SAM TABORY EN

Police in Honduras say transportation operators are often complicit in the extortion rings that exploit their own drivers, showing how the range of actors involved in these schemes extends beyond the "mara" gangs that draw the attentions of the security forces. 

Representatives of the Anti-Extortion Unit of the National Police in Honduras (Fuerza Nacional Antiextorsión - FNA) have said that some transportation owners and operators cooperate with gangs in extorting their colleagues making it harder to detect and dismantle the schemes, reported La Prensa. The FNA says that complicity in extortion rackets also extends to members of the police, military, and other public officials. 

Since the FNA was established in 2013, the unit has arrested more than 2000 people for extortion related crimes. While the vast majority have been connected to the street gangs known as "maras," those arrested have also included prison officials, telecommunications workers, police officers, and members of the military. 

Authorities believe mara gangs are responsible for around 80 percent of extortion of transport networks. Although the country's two most infamous gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18, are the dominant actors in the racket, the FNA has also identified four smaller gangs that control territory and operate active transport extortion rings in Honduras' capital Tegucigalpa: Los Chirizos, Los Benjamines, "El combo que no se deja," and La Mafia. 

InSight Crime Analysis  

Extortion of transport networks in Honduras is worth $27 million a year, according to government estimates, and as the FNA develops a more complete picture of who is involved in these rackets it is becoming clear the country's main gangs are not the only ones taking their cut of this money.

While gangs drive much of the actual collection and enforcement efforts, carrying out attacks and executions when payment is not made, it is also clear that their operations rely on the collaboration of insiders at transportation networks as well as the collusion of corrupt security forces and public officials, and the role of such actors should not be ignored in investigations.

In addition, it is important to note the MS13 and Barrio 18 are not the only gangs involved in extortion as if all eyes are on these groups, smaller rivals could flourish.

In February 2016, for example, authorities in Honduras launched a security offensive known as "Operation Avalanche" that specifically targets MS13 extortion networks. If such operations succeed in diminishing the MS13's capacity to operate, this may not lead to a drop in extortion, but instead the strengthening of the gang's rivals, who could take advantage of authorities' diverted attention and the MS13's troubles to expand their own operations and territorial control. 

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

HONDURAS / 15 FEB 2012

More than 300 inmates are feared to have died when a fire broke out in a prison in Honduras, which…

EL SALVADOR / 28 SEP 2017

In our September 28 Facebook Live session, senior editor Mike LaSusa spoke with freelance journalist Nicholas Phillips about his recent…

CACHIROS / 18 JUL 2018

Authorities in the United States charged a Honduras congressman and several members of a powerful political family with drug trafficking…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.