HomeNewsBriefProperty Seizures of CIA Linked Narco Latest Blow Against Honduras Impunity
BRIEF

Property Seizures of CIA Linked Narco Latest Blow Against Honduras Impunity

ELITES AND CRIME / 4 AUG 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Authorities in Honduras have confiscated 17 properties belonging to the family of convicted drug trafficker and ex-CIA contact Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros -- one of several recent actions suggesting the authorities are finally making moves against previously untouchable criminals. 

On July 31, Honduran authorities confiscated businesses, houses, and land belonging to the children of Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, reported La Prensa. Authorities believe Matta Ballesteros acquired the properties using profits from illegal activities, and that they were inherited by his children while they were still minors, reported El Heraldo.

Matta Ballesteros' son, Juan Ramon Matta Waldurraga, denied the accusations and stated that the family had inherited the properties from their grandmother. He also accused the Honduran government of retroactively applying a law passed two years ago on the confiscation of properties, which he said was illegal under Honduras' constitution.   

InSight Crime Analysis

Matta Ballesteros was Honduras' first known major international drug trafficker. He served as an intermediary between Colombia's Medellin Cartel and Mexico's Guadalajara Cartel. According to La Tribuna, he amassed a fortune of more than $2 billion and at one point offered to pay off Honduras' external debt.  

Matta Ballesteros allegedly had ties to high-level officials in Honduras and it is rumored he even financed a military coup in 1978. He also had dealings with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which used his airline company to transport weapons, food and other supplies to the Nicaraguan rebels known as the Contras, who were fighting a proxywar against the Sandinista government.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

Things took a turn for Matta Ballesteros in 1985, when he was implicated in the kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena. He was arrested in Honduras by US Marshals in 1988. Even though Honduras did not have an extradition treaty with the United States at the time, he was transported to the US and sentenced to life in prison. Hondurans protested, burning the embassy. Several people died in the clashes. 

There has been talk of Matta Ballesteros' children being involved in drug trafficking since their father's extradition, but no charges have been filed against them, and there have been no known investigations into the family's activities. However, authorities did also seize some of Matta Ballesteros' properties in 2004.

The recent seizures come amid other government actions targeting powerful criminal groups, which together could indicate the protection provided to powerful Honduran criminals by corrupt state contacts may be starting to crack. In March, Honduran authorities arrested drug trafficker Carlos "El Negro" Lobo, who became the first Honduran extradited to the US under 2012 legislation. Last year they went after the Cachiros, a major drug transport organization, seizing numerous properties and businesses.

Still, there are no formal charges against the Cachiros, and other more powerful criminal groups continue to operate with relative impunity.

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

COCAINE / 16 FEB 2021

The party that has governed Honduras since 2010 has become a federation that welcomes politicians and officials involved in criminal…

BOLIVIA / 29 DEC 2022

The US is losing allies in Latin America just as production of cocaine, fentanyl, and other synthetic drugs is going…

BARRIO 18 / 1 MAR 2022

Fired prison employees in El Salvador have claimed they witnessed negotiations among government officials and imprisoned gang leaders, adding weight…

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…