Honduran President Porfirio Lobo said more of the cash seized from drug traffickers should be distributed more quickly among the security and defense departments.

A revised law allowing the Honduras government to better seize criminal assets was passed just over a year ago, and authorities are still having trouble implementing it efficiently.

Lobo told La Tribuna that there should be a policy allowing for the separation of cash assets from material ones like houses, guns, and other luxury items. The forfeited cash could then be distributed far more quickly to security agencies, to spend in their campaign against organized crime.

According to a law introduced in July 2010 and approved by Congress in November, three government ministries would each receive 26 percent of the forfeited criminal assets: the State Security Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the Public Ministry. Another 10 percent is intended to be used as "bonus" salaries for police and firemen, and the remaining 10 percent is earmarked for drug rehabilitation programs.

But the distribution of these seized assets to the security forces has faced layers of red tape. Last year security forces seized three properties worth tens of millions of dollars, believed to have been built with drug money. By December, the government had distributed a reported $150 million to the security forces, but this was only made possible through an emergency decree that sped up the process.·

In September, the government announced they may create a new office intended to make implementing the law easier. Honduras is seeking new sources of funds for the fight against organized crime, and even briefly considered levying a significant security tax.

Allowing the Honduran security forces to more efficiently access the cash seized from drug traffickers could provide a serious financial boost. As the U.S. State Department points out, Honduras is a transhipment hub for bulk cash shipments smuggled from the U.S. back to Central and South America. In 2009, Honduran security forces seized cash shipments valued at $7.1 million, with another $9 million seized in 2010.

But little of that money is going into the hands of the security forces. The government has reportedly only distributed $2 million and 35 million lempiras (about $1.8 million) worth of seized cash to state insitutions between 2003 and 2011.

Investigations

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

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.