Members of the TIGRES police unit

Honduras' newly sworn in president has deployed military police and a new police unit into the streets of capital Tegucigalpa, in a move that could be a sign of his promised hardline approach to security.

During the January 27 inauguration ceremony, President Juan Orlando Hernandez put the plan -- named "Operation Morazan" -- into effect and declared his intent to use "mano dura" (iron first) policies to combat violence and insecurity in the country, reported La Prensa. The operation will see the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP) and the "Tigers" -- a specialized police unit created to combat organized crime that went operational on January 26 -- deployed on the streets of Tegucigalpa and the adjoining city of Comayaguela to fight crime.

Hernandez said that "any policy established in Honduras to combat insecurity must have the fundamental goal of fighting against drugs, drug trafficking, organized crime, money laundering, and, thus, zero tolerance."

His strategy will include increasing both the military and police presence on the streets and on public transport, he said.

Minister of Security Arturo Corrales also pledged to reduce the homicide rate to seven murders per day -- from the 17 or more witnessed currently -- while Hernandez promised to decrease violence and extortion in the crime-wracked country in coming months.

InSight Crime Analysis

Hernandez's immediate deployment of soldiers as police onto the streets serves as a potential preview of the security policies his administration will employ while in office. Hernandez has been an active proponent of militarized security and was influential in the creation of the PMOP.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

The new president's security views have raised concerns among those who believe these kinds of iron-fist policies run contrary to civil liberties and human rights. Evidence also suggests that, rather than quashing crime, "mano dura" policies in Latin America can serve to increase violence and strengthen gangs.

Honduras, as the world's most dangerous nation outside a war zone, has a particularly challenging security situation. It has a high concentration of the Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) street gangs, who are deeply involved in criminality and exert social control. It has also seen a sharp increase in drug flights since 2009, accompanied by an influx of transnational criminal groups.

The country is also faced with severely weak institutions and a police force rife with corruption and organized crime links.

The previous administration began militarizing security partly as a way of mitigating the current police crisis, exacerbated by a stuttering reform effort. However, in addition to human rights concerns, this strategy has had little effect thus far and fails to address the institutional weaknesses underlying Honduras' security crisis.

Investigations

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

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

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...

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.

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...

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...

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...

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. 

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...