Honduran tycoon Miguel Facusse

A human rights lawyer gunned down in Honduras this weekend had reportedly declared that if he were killed, notorious business tycoon Miguel Facusse, one of the main drivers of the Bajo Aguan land conflict, would be the one behind it.

In the morning of September 23, Antonio Trejo Cabrera was gunned down by unknown assailants after attending a wedding in Tegucigalpa. He had been a legal representative for farmers in disputes with large landowners in the Bajo Aguan region, northern Honduras. A violent land conflict raging there has claimed at least 60 lives in the last two years, most of them farmers.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Trejo had publicly declared that Miguel Facusse, a billionaire landowner involved in the land conflict, would be the one to blame if he were murdered. The lawyer had reported death threats since June 2011, and the AP obtained a copy of a text message received by Trejo that stated: “You have 48 hours to get out or you’re dead.”

Facusse has denied any involvement in the killing.

The United States announced that it will support the investigation into Trejo’s murder.

InSight Crime Analysis

Facusse, a supporter of the 2009 coup, is one of Honduras' most powerful and controversial characters. Earlier this year, Reporters Without Borders named him as the biggest threat to press freedom in the country, with the NGO claiming he oversees his own private militia which “can count on support from the police and army to impose his will.”

In addition, according to a US State Department cable released by WikiLeaks, a Facusse property was the alleged landing site for a plane carrying 1 ton of cocaine in 2004, the third such incident on the property in a little over a year. As academic Dana Frank has pointed out, despite concerns over Facusse’s potential ties to drug trafficking, US Embassy staff have met with the businessman on more than one occasion. There are currently no charges against him in the United States.

Facusse holds enormous political and economic power in Honduras. If he was indeed behind Trejo’s murder, obtaining a conviction against him may prove extremely difficult, even with support from the United States.

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...

'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...

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...

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...

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 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...