Authorities in Honduras have captured the current head of “El Negro” Lobo’s drug trafficking network, making him the second Honduran to face likely extradition to the United States. The question now is: will the arrests of more powerful and well-connected kingpins follow?
On September 10, police forces captured Juving Alexander Suazo Peralta in the coastal department of Atlantida, ending a three day search for the leader of Carlos “El Negro” Lobo’s former second-in-command, reported Proceso.
According to police, Suazo Peralta assumed control of the drug trafficking group — which the United States claims has ties to Colombian criminal groups — after El Negro Lobo was captured by authorities in March, reported the AFP. The United States has accused Suazo Peralta of helping orchestrate large shipments of cocaine and hallucinogenic drugs. He was included on the same extradition list as El Negro Lobo, according to police.
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In May, El Negro Lobo became the first Honduran extradited to the United States under an extradition law passed in January 2012. Suazo Peralta will likely follow in his footsteps, which would make him the second Honduran national extradited to the United States in over a century.
The capture of Suazo Peralta comes just one week after his former boss pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking in a Florida court. This timing raises the possibility that El Negro Lobo may have given information on Suazo Peralta to US authorities in exchange for a more lenient sentence.
However, the bigger question is whether the capture of the two men represents the beginning of a wider push to arrest and prosecute key Honduran drug traffickers, or whether these events are acting more as a distraction from the lack of decisive action taken against the leaders of more powerful groups.
While Honduran authorities have financially targeted two of Honduras’ principal drug trafficking groups — the Valle family and the Cachiros — no high-level members of either group have been arrested in Honduras (the Valles sister was captured in Florida in July).
SEE ALSO: Cachiros Profile
It is possible that Honduran authorities are pursuing the more vulnerable networks first, in preparation for more difficult operations involving these drug trafficking heavyweights.
However, it remains to be seen to what extent Honduran authorities are really dedicated to pursuing these groups. The Valles and Cachiros are very well-connected and going after their leaders could mean trouble for Honduras’ political and economic elites, particularly because it would increase the likelihood of the US Treasury Department adding economic conglomerates allegedly linked to the groups to their kingpin list.