Drug trafficking groups from Honduras are reportedly fueling violence in Nicaragua's Atlantic region through their involvement in the hijacking of drug shipments, in another sign Honduran organizations are emerging as a transnational threat.
According to Brigadier General Bayardo Rodriguez, the Nicaraguan army's chief of military operations, local assassination squads in the Atlantic regions are targeting so-called "tumbadores" -- groups engaged in stealing drug consignments -- which themselves are linked to Honduran drug trafficking organizations, reported La Prensa.
The official also highlighted how illegal Honduran groups are crossing into Nicaraguan territory to escape the attention of Honduran military operations against them, with a 600 kilometer stretch of border between Bocay and Waspam witnessing significant incursions from such groups.
According to Rodriguez, one of the difficulties in carrying out effective operations in the Atlantic and northern border regions is the vast expanse of inhospitable, densely vegetated terrain typical of the region.
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The apparent involvement of Honduran groups in hijacking drug shipments only emphasizes the volatile nature of the sort of drug trafficking found in this part of Central America. Local "transportista" groups receive shipments from South America, often stopping in the Caribbean on the way, destined for the Mexican cartels which transport them into the United States. At this point in the chain, operations can be something of a free-for-all and the instability breeds heightened violence among competing gangs.
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Honduran groups appear to be increasingly active in Nicaraguan territory, with the area known as the Miskito or commonly Mosquito Coast -- which straddles the Atlantic coastlines of both countries -- a hotbed for drug trafficking and cross-border activity from illegal groups. The region has also reportedly become a stop-off for drug flights, while illegal logging in the border area has also been linked to Honduran groups.
The problem of drug trafficking between the two nations has seen bilateral agreements made in recent years, with the pair the only nations to ratify a regional convention targeting drug trafficking in October, in part driven by problem of trafficking in their common border areas.
Honduran criminals linked to drug trafficking have also apparently surfaced elsewhere in the region, with Honduran passports recovered during an operation carried out against a network flying drugs into Costa Rica by helicopter.