Still from a video of a killing in Honduras

Shocking security camera footage of apparently highly trained assassins executing two Honduran students in the street has drawn attention to the complex question of who is behind the spiraling violence in the Central American country.

The footage, published by El Heraldo, was taken from CCTV cameras in Comayaguela -- a city which together with Tegucigalpa forms Honduras’ capital -- in November last year.

The video shows two vehicles stopping in the street next to a group of five youths, who, according to the newspaper, were walking home. As armed men jump from the vehicles, three of the youths run and the assassins open fire.

The armed men then force the other two youths, brothers aged 18 and 20, who were both students, to lie face down on the floor before shooting them in the back of the head.

One of the youths died at the scene, while the other died minutes later in a medical center. The other youths managed to escape, although one, a cousin of the murdered brothers, was injured.

According to experts consulted by El Heraldo, the hit appeared to be a professional operation, and the killers demonstrated a high level of training.

The analyst highlighted how the hitmen in one of the vehicles were dressed the same and had the same weapons, bulletproof vests and balaclavas. The expert also identified the person who appeared to be leading the operation, who conducted a "police-style" search for weapons on the brothers.

According to the experts, the hit squad maintained strategic positions throughout the assault, establishing three rings around the area -- one to deal with the targets, a second to chase the escaping youths, and the third that stayed as lookouts.

Despite the footage, no one has been arrested for the crime. According to El Heraldo, the cameras that recorded the murders have now been turned off, after the Honduran government failed to pay the private security companies that operate them.

InSight Crime Analysis

Aside from being a brutal reminder of the violence sweeping through Honduras, which currently has the highest murder rate in the world, the footage raises important questions as to who is carrying out these murders.

The high level of professionalism of the assassins would seem to suggest that they are not members of street gangs, such as Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), which are rife in Honduras. Large scale criminal groups also operate in the country, reportedly including Mexican cartel the Zetas.

One possible explanation for the hitmen's high level of training is that they could have had ties to the security forces. The police and military in Honduras are notoriously corrupt and involved in a wide range of criminal activities, including carrying out extrajudicial killings.

Investigations

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

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

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...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

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...

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...

'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...

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...

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.

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...