Narco-plane shot down by Honduras in 2012

The United States has ended the sharing of intelligence from anti-narcotics radars with Honduras in a predictable response to Honduras passing a law permitting the shooting down of drug planes.

US officials confirmed to El Heraldo that on March 23 the United States halted the practice of providing their Honduran counterparts with radar information on the movements of suspect airplanes.

The decision was taken after Honduras approved a law permitting such planes to be shot down, which according to the official who spoke to El Heraldo, "is not compatible with US laws that regulate certain types of security assistance."

The official did not comment on whether the move was to be a temporary or a permanent suspension and added that cooperation in maritime interdictions would continue.

The issue was discussed prior to the passing of the law when US State Department Official William Brownfield met with new Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez in February. However, Hernandez dismissed Brownfield's concerns over the possibility of civilian casualties and declared it "a sovereign right," to shoot down planes in their airspace, reported El Heraldo.

In addition to the shoot down law, Honduras has also purchased three new radar systems to tackle aerial trafficking, the first of which is now opertional. However, drug traffickers are already adapting to the new radar system by switching flights direct from South America for shorter flights that move into Honduras via Nicaragua, which helps avoid detection, reported El Heraldo.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is not the first time the United States has suspended cooperation with Honduras in tracking drug flights by radar. In 2012, cooperation was halted for four months after Honduras shot down two suspected drug planes, which US officials said was a violation of a bilateral agreement.

However, the policy behind the United States' refusal to aid countries in shooting down drug planes is not limited to Honduras and can be traced to an incident in 2001 when the Peruvian air force shot down a plane killing a US missionary and her infant child. At the time, US forces were cooperating closely with the Peruvian air force in shooting down drug planes as part of the Air Bridge Denial program.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

US policy on drug plane shoot downs was made clear before Honduras passed the law, raising the question of why the government pushed ahead anyway. With Honduras' new radar system now in use, it may be the government believes it does not require further US assistance in this area. Alternatively, they may be hoping that the suspension once again proves temporary. 

Investigations

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

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

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.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

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.

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...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

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.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.