Grieving family members in Ahuas

In our June 8 Facebook Live discussion, Senior Editor Mike LaSusa spoke with Mattathias Schwartz, a national security reporter for The Intercept, about a series of deadly raids that took place in 2012 in Honduras involving US law enforcement personnel.

The conversation began with LaSusa and Schwartz discussing a joint report on these incidents that was published recently by the Inspectors General of the State and Justice departments. The report examines three separate incidents in which agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were found to have exercised deadly force during the course of missions intended to train a special unit of the Honduran National Police known as the Tactical Response Team (TRT).

Schwartz, who covered the report for The Intercept and had previously investigated the deadliest of the three incidents for the New Yorker, explained that the Inspectors General found that the DEA provided inaccurate and misleading information to Congress about the actions of its personnel during the raids, and that the agency had stymied outside investigations, including one by the US embassy in Honduras.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Honduras

Schwartz and LaSusa also discussed how the report details alleged misbehavior by the DEA's Honduran partners, including planting evidence and willfully making inaccurate reports to justify deadly uses of force. Schwartz said that this raises questions about the "institutional culture" at the DEA, where top officials were reportedly aware of these concerns but took virtually no action to address them.

The two also talked about the report in the context of US security policy in Central America more broadly. Schwartz pointed out that US policymakers should be careful not to conflate the security threats posed by criminal networks in the region with those posed by terrorist groups around the globe, in order to avoid applying inappropriate responses to serious security challenges. And he also highlighted the need for meaningful congressional oversight to help hold executive branch agencies accountable when policies and operations fall short, as they did in these cases -- with deadly consequences.

Watch the Facebook Live broadcast for the full conversation:

Investigations

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

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.