El Heraldo newspaper is questioning the Honduran authorities about the disappearance of thousands of guns from government warehouses, amid fears they may have ended up on the black market.

El Heraldo is investigating the whereabouts of approximately 3,000 guns collected during President Maduro’s administration, between the years 2002 and 2006. Maduro implemented a temporary gun buyback program, in which weapons could be surrendered to police in exchange for 1,000 lempiras (approximately $50 dollars).

A source quoted in the article says that 600 guns were stored on police Cobra Special Operations Command facilities and the remaining 2,400 were held by Honduras’ National Special Investigation Services. This incident is not the first in which a cache of weapons has disappeared from Cobra facilities: hundreds went missing in 2007 and again, in late October, authorities admitted that guns, ammunition and equipment had vanished from storage at a Cobra installation.

There is no evidence that the government destroyed the large cache of weapons, including AK-47 rifles and other military-grade weapons.  Officials questioned by El Heraldo could not provide information on their location. Honduran authorities have initiated an investigation into the missing weapons, according to a spokesperson for the Security Ministry.

Honduras has one of the world's highest murder rates and is the government is struggling to combat increasing violence related to drug-trafficking. Many fear that the missing stockpiles of weapons may be used to arm criminals and drug traffickers, fueling further conflict in the region.