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
  • 10
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...

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...

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...

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: 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. 

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...

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...

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.

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...