Honduras authorities announced that 71 bank accounts confiscated from the Cachiros were found empty, a sign of how institutional corruption is likely to hamper moves against the well-connected drug trafficking organization.
Director of the Administrative Office of Seized Goods (OABI) Humberto Palacios Moya confirmed that the accounts had been emptied and moveable assets such as cars and machinery removed from properties before they were confiscated. Palacios said the apparent advance notice the group had of the operation against them suggests there was a leak from within the police, reported La Prensa.
Last month Honduran authorities, with strong assistance (and insistence) from US authorities, seized an estimated $800 million of property and assets from the Cachiros as part of “Operation Neptune.” Police Chief Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla declaring authorities would “drain the water of the fish and then go after them.” And US authorities made bold statements that this was just the beginning.
However, no arrests have yet been made and, according to El Heraldo, a man renting one of the confiscated properties was warned a month in advance that authorities would reclaim the property.
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The ability of the Cachiros to infiltrate the operation against them comes as little surprise. The group is one of Honduras’ most powerful and Honduran police suffer from endemic corruption. Bonilla himself has been tied to corruption and death squads.
However, the police are also an easy scapegoat. The Cachiros are known to have connections in the upper reaches of Honduran society and politics, so there are powerful actors with a vested interest in their continued immunity, among them the owners of the banks, which represent some of the wealthiest Honduran elite.
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This is backed up by the fact that the leak was apparently made at least a month before the historic operation. The leak is even more troubling given the small circle with which the US Treasury, which helped oversee the investigation, is working. The evidence suggests it came from someone involved in, or connected to, those responsible for planning the operation.