A government minister from Honduras has stated that Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman could be living in the country, where geography, corruption and crime provide the ideal conditions for a drug lord hideout.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Vice-minister of Defense Carlos Roberto Funes said the Sinaloa Cartel controlled the drug trade in Honduras, adding, "Yes, Chapo Guzman could be in Honduras." Funes went on to brand local criminal groups as "sons of the Mexican cartels."
According to Funes there are up to 200 clandestine landing strips in the country, which are repaired by local people whenever security forces discover and destroy them. Funes said authorities recently discovered a 2.5 kilometer landing strip -- more than double the normal length -- suggesting drug traffickers may be seeking to bring drugs into the country in planes much larger than the traditional light aircrafts usually employed.
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Funes' comments add weight to a report by La Prensa, which suggested the village of Espiritu Santo, near the border with Guatemala, was a refuge for Guzman.
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Rumors have circulated for years that Guzman could be using Honduras to hide or rest, however it is notable that Funes is willing to publicly entertain the possibility.
Guzman could be motivated to use Honduras to escape security force pressure in his native Mexico, or because Honduras is a key transit point for drugs -- with the US State Department's 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report noting that up to 87 percent of drug flights leaving South America land in this Central American nation.
Honduras would also make an attractive prospect for Guzman because of its institutional weaknesses. Corruption among the security forces is widespread, and is also prevalent among the country's political and economic elites, making a serious manhunt targeting Guzman highly unlikely.
In addition to this, Espiritu Santo and the surrounding region is renowned as a narco-paradise, with the authorities firmly in the pocket of drug lords, who can move freely and act as they please.
However, while Honduras would make an ideal hideout for Guzman, the elusive capo has consistently stayed one step ahead of security forces, and the truth is that reports of his whereabouts rarely rise above the level of speculation.