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

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

The Fixer and El Salvador's Missed Opportunity

In the photograph, they are both smiling. In the foreground, on the left hand side, a man in a short-sleeved buttoned white shirt, jeans and a metal watch, holds a bottle of water in his right hand. He laughs heartily. He is Herbert Saca. On the right...

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...

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...

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...

'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...

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...

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.

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 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...