Agents of Honduras' DNIC at a crime scene

All 1,400 officers from Honduras' investigative police unit have been suspended over alleged corruption and ties to organized crime, once again underscoring the extent of police corruption in Honduras and the scale of the challenge facing reform attempts.

On June 5, every officer from Honduras' Criminal Investigation Unit (DNIC) -- which makes up around 10 percent of Honduras' police force -- was suspended indefinitely, and will now be submitted to confidence tests.

The head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Cortes (CICC), Fernando Jaar, said he was told by Security Minister Arturo Corrales that the DNIC intervention was in response to links between the investigative body and organized crime. "He told us ... they are leaking information to organized crime and were planning criminal acts from that office [the DNIC]," said Jaar.

Since June 2012, Honduran police have been undergoing confidence tests -- including psychological assessments, polygraph tests, and drug testing -- in an effort to tackle endemic corruption.

The day before the suspension was announced, Congress gave final approval for the creation of a special national police unit, the "Tigers" (for their Spanish acronym), a proposed high-technology force with investigative and intelligence capacities. Officials said the force will not be military in nature, as previously planned.

InSight Crime Analysis

The claim that the suspended officers were involved with organized crime is unsurprising, given the notoriety of Honduras' police force. In 2011, one official claimed that 40 percent of police had ties to organized crime, while police have also been accused of extortion, drug trafficking, and carrying out contract killings.

As part of an ongoing reform effort, 652 officers had been removed as of April and members of the top command have been subjected to confidence tests. However, the process has been criticized for its slowness and for failure to suspend some officers who had previously failed confidence tests.

In view of the latest suspensions, the approval of the Tigers unit is an interesting move by Congress. While Tigers officers will be submitted to rigorous testing before being hired, the dynamics of Honduran police corruption indicate that increasing numbers and adding units will not make the force more effective unless this is accompanied by an overall change in police culture.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
Prev Next

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...