Honduran police officers

Almost 100 officers are set to be purged from the Honduran police force according to reports, though the lengthy process involved in their removal and the slow pace of efforts to tackle corruption so far raise questions about how sincerely the government is addressing the issue.

El Heraldo reported that it had been given access to a list, dated October 22, of 99 officers set to be dismissed from the force, among them 13 commissioners and 11 deputy commissioners.

The process will involve the 99 being relieved of their positions for one year, during which the state will pay their salary as normal. Once the year is up, they can be officially removed from the police force.

Two former police chiefs -- Ricardo Ramirez del Cid and Jose Luis Muñoz Licona -- are also set to be fired upon suggestion of the Security Ministry, reported La Prensa. Though they have already been removed from their positions, the state’s failure to re-assign them means they will also go through the year-long process.

Ramirez replaced Muñoz last October when the latter was removed from his position following the murder of two university students by alleged corrupt officers. Ramirez then lost his job in May when it emerged an ex-policeman was linked to the murder of a journalist.

According to La Prensa, some of the 99 on the list have actually passed confidence tests currently being carried out by DIECP, the investigative body charged with assessing police officials. These tests involve psychological assessments, toxicology tests and a polygraph, and began in late June.  There are also others on the list that have failed the test but were not removed with immediate effect.

InSight Crime Analysis

Honduras arguably has the most notorious police force in the region in terms of corruption and its infiltration by criminal elements.  One congressman claimed last year that up to 40 percent of police had ties to organized crime while a Miami Herald report from January found that police were actively participating in, and sometimes directing, criminal operations for imprisoned gang members.

The Honduran government has taken steps to tackle the problem though progress has been slow to date. The independent Commission on Public Security Reform (CRSP) began work on June 1 with one of its primary goals being reform of the police. According to EFE, however, this has not received the funds it has been promised so far.

The role of DIECP is a welcome initiative to weed out corrupt elements, though this too appears to be moving slowly. The Honduran police force is comprised of over 14,000 officers, presenting DIECP with an enormous task. On top of this, of the tests carried out to date, there have been many instances of officers simply not showing up for their assessment.

The announcement that 99 members are going to be removed from the force suggests the government is combating the issue in earnest to a degree. However, it is puzzling that the removal process is so lengthy if these officers have been found unfit, and that it should still incur a cost on the state for a year. What’s more, the fact that some of the officers have not been submitted to the test points to a possible failure by the government to effectively coordinate operations across institutions when tackling police corruption.

Though Honduras may be the worst in the region for police corruption, it is certainly not alone when it comes to narco-infiltration of the force. In Guatemala, for example, the government announced this week that it would equip police with microchips to track their movements, an initiative apparently driven by the endemic levels of corruption within the force. Also within the last week, one Mexican military commander declared that more than 90 percent of the police in Cancun and Playa del Carmen had ties to organized crime, while the chief of police in Argentina’s Santa Fe province was forced to resign due to an investigation into his alleged links with drug traffickers.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...