Honduras Cocaine Seizures are a Drop in the Bucket

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The Honduran government claims to have seized a some 22 metric tons of cocaine in 2011, but a quick look at the estimates of regional cocaine flows suggests this is only a fraction of the amount which passes through the Central American country.

The head of the Honduran navy, Rigoberto Espinoza, told local press this week that Honduran security forces have interdicted a total of 22.6 metric tons of cocaine in various counternarcotics operations this year. He also noted that officials have seized three so-called “narcosubs,” one of which has been brought to a military base in Tegucigalpa as a “trophy in the struggle which authorities are waging against drug trafficking.”

However, such self-congratulatory acts may not be entirely warranted. In September, Minister of Defense Marlon Pascua claimed that 87 percent of cocaine which is sent from South America to the United States passes through Honduras. If this percentage is applied to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s estimate that 165 metric tons of cocaine is consumed in the US annually, it would mean that around 143.55 tons of the drug pass through Honduras annually. The 22.6 figure thus represents a drop in the bucket (15.7) of the total cocaine shipped through Honduras.

Honduras’ status as a transit country has only worsened in recent years. As InSight Crime has reported, the political turmoil in the wake of the 2009 coup caused security forces to concentrate their efforts on cementing state control, thus allowing drug traffickers to deepen their activities in the country with relative impunity.

This is unlikely to change in the future, as the Honduran police are notoriously corrupt. In addition to having been involved in the October 22 murder of two university students, Honduran National police claim to have “lost” thousands of confiscated weapons, many of which have ended up on the black market.

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