The early morning assassination of the son of former Honduras President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa by a well-armed commando has sent shockwaves through the Central American nation, as authorities work to uncover those responsible.
During the early morning of July 14, security footage showed a professional hit squad armed with high-powered weapons and bulletproof vests from the national anti-gang police (Fuerza Nacional Anti Maras y Pandillas - FNAMP) intercept Saíd Omar Lobo Bonilla, the son of the former president, and three others as the group left a nightclub in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.
While one member of the attack team stayed outside the parking complex and motioned for bystanders to move away, the four victims were removed from three luxury vehicles and murdered within 106 seconds. Afterwards, the attackers left in the pickup truck they arrived in.
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Police identified the other men killed as Luis Zelaya, a relative of Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces; Salomón Vásquez, the son of a retired soldier; and Norlan Rivera, Lobo Bonilla’s driver and bodyguard.
While many people may want to harm the former president’s family, National Police Chief Gustavo Sánchez attributed the murders to the MS13 street gang. Sánchez offered no evidence to support that claim. Three arrests have been made so far in connection to the killings.
InSight Crime Analysis
Much is still unknown about those responsible and the motive behind the brutal assassinations, but the Lobo Sosa family has long been connected to organized crime in Honduras.
Lobo Sosa served as president of Honduras between 2010 and 2014 for the National Party. During that time, he was accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from the Cachiros drug clan, as well as directing public funds and government contracts to companies the network owned.
Cachiros leader Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga and his brother Javier reportedly met with Lobo Sosa at least twice while he was a presidential candidate, exchanging bribes for official protection from law enforcement and extradition to the United States.
Lobo Sosa has repeatedly denied accusations he accepted drug money from the Cachiros. But the former president’s oldest son, Fabio Lobo, was arrested in 2015 for trafficking cocaine alongside the Cachiros during the same time his father was head of state in Honduras. He later pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to 24 years in US prison.
But whether or not the MS13 street gang was behind the attack that killed Lobo Sosa’s son - and why - remains to be seen. Despite police claims that the MS13 was involved, it is unclear why the gang would target the group.
That said, MS13 members have been involved in similar operations. In February 2020, more than a dozen gang members dressed in Honduran military and anti-gang police uniforms rushed a courthouse in the north of the country and freed MS13 leader Alexander Mendoza, alias “El Porky.” Four officials were killed in that military-style operation, and more than two years on, authorities have yet to re-capture Mendoza.