Officials in Honduras have discovered more than 60 hidden airfields in four eastern provinces, which drug traffickers use to smuggle their product into and out of the country.
La Tribuna reports that Honduran police have found at least 62 clandestine landing strips in the eastern departments of Olancho, Colon, Gracias a Dios and El Paraiso. Officials say that they have destroyed 13 of these landing strips in the past several days, and plan on destroying 12 more this week.
According to Rene Osorio Canales, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Honduran military, most of them are in good condition. “This indicates that drug trafficking organizations use them frequently, maybe even as much as one or two times a week,” Osorio said. He also claimed that it is common for drug flights to have three alternate landing sites, so that if one is deemed too risky the pilot can reroute to either of the others in midflight.
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As illustrated in the map below, the largest number (25) of these landing strips were found in remote areas in Olancho, the country’s largest province. It is followed by Colon (with 15 landing strips), Gracias a Dios (12) and El Paraiso (10).
The discovery of these airfields sheds light on Honduras’ increasing importance in the regional drug trade. Honduras is a major transit nation for South American cocaine bound for the US, and as much as 79 percent of all cocaine smuggling flights from South America first pass through Honduras, according to the US State Department. This is slightly lower than the statistics cited by Defense Minister Marlon Pascua, who told local press in September that 87 percent of cocaine which leaves South America to the US passes through Honduras.
View InSight Map: Drug Trafficking Landing Strips in Honduras in a larger map