Former Honduran police chiefs Ramirez (left) and Muñoz

Eight former top ranking Honduran police officials are under investigation for alleged illicit enrichment, raising the dilemma of how to reform an institution where corruption is rife at the highest levels.

The Honduran government comptrollers (Tribunal Superior de Cuentas) and police internal affairs investigators (Direccion de Investigacion y Evaluacion de la Carrera Policial) are investigating two former police chiefs and six retired general commissioners over financial irregularities.

The investigation has revealed the suspects have assets of around $3.7 million (74.5 million lempiras) that they have been unable to account for, reported La Prensa. Reports from investigations showed inconsistencies between the banks, companies, and properties owned by the officials and their declared income, suggesting the funds they invested "could come from the crime of illicit enrichment."

Both former chiefs were previously removed from their posts as a result of police scandals. Jose Luis Muñoz Licona was removed in October 2011 following accusations that police murdered two university students, and his successor, Ricardo Ramirez del Cid, was replaced in May 2012, following accusations linked to the murder of a journalist.

InSight Crime Analysis

Attempts to reform the Honduran police have led to the administration of a range of confidence tests -- including lie detectors, psychological assessments and drug tests -- over the course of the past year. The reform process, however, has been slow, while conflicting statistics make it unclear how much progress is actually being made.

In May, the top levels of the command were also subjected to confidence testing, as well as background checks, indicating, as does the current investigation, recognition that changing the force will require purging corrupt leadership as well as regular officers.

The current police leadership is proving to be as controversial as the ex-chiefs under investigation. Police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla has been consistently accused of extrajudicial killings, and the United States has officially refused to send financial aid to units under his control because of the allegations, although in reality the money continues to flow. 

Investigations

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

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

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...

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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

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...

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...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.