Honduras police in the greenhouse

Honduran authorities have reported the first ever discovery of an opium plantation in the country, a new milestone marking the country's ever-growing role in the international drug trade.

On January 31, Honduran officials reported that they had discovered and destroyed a high-tech greenhouse growing opium poppies and marijuana on a mountain in west HondurasInter Press Service reported

The greenhouse was found in the municipality of La Iguala, 400km from capital city Tegucigalpa and 1,600 meters above sea level. The location is only reachable by horseback or all-terrain vehicle, and becomes inaccessible during the rainy season.

The raid discovered 1,800 opium poppy plants and 800 cannabis plants. The structure itself was reportedly 100 meters long and 40 meters wide, air-conditioned, with a large generator, a modern irrigation system and other high-tech equipment.

Two people were arrested in the raid, a Honduran laborer and a Colombian who managed the farm and had been previously arrested and released, reported La Prensa.

Carlos Mejia, a deputy superintendent of the National Police who headed the operation, told IPS, "We suspect there are many more plantations in these enormous western mountains, so we are combing the entire region."

InSight Crime Analysis

The revelation that Honduras is now a location for high-tech opium production is just the latest sign of to the country's slide into the hands of powerful criminal elements. Since a 2009 coup, the presence of foreign organized crime has increased markedly and, according to the US State Department's latest estimate, 75 percent of cocaine leaving South America by plane transits through the Central American nation. 

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

Part of this criminal expansion has involved the growth of drug processing, with several cocaine labs discovered in Honduras since 2011, but the arrival of opium poppy cultivation is a major new development suggesting criminal operations are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are confident of being able to operate with impunity.

While foreign criminal organizations have played a large role in driving this evolution -- the cocaine processing plant discovered in 2011 allegedly belonged to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel -- there are growing indications that homegrown organized crime groups are also building strength and moving up the drug trafficking value chain.

If local criminal groups do successfully increase their role in drug production, it raises the possibility that Honduras could soon generate its own transnational criminal operations and become major players in the international drug trade.  

Investigations

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

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...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

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...

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.

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...

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...

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...

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...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

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...