Virginia Drug Bust Points to Honduras Cocaine Connections

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United States authorities announced the arrest of 28 people involved in a trafficking ring that smuggled cocaine from Honduras into the country, a rare case of a US-based Honduran drug ring with a transnational connection.

The 28 suspects were arrested in Virginia’s Fairfax county (pictured) and charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

According to the FBI, the trafficking ring imported cocaine from Honduras hidden in ordinary household items like shoes and picture frames. The drugs were then distributed in as many as five states along the east coast, and part of the profits wired back to their suppliers in Honduras.

InSight Crime Analysis

Honduran groups that control every step in the drug trafficking chain — from direct contacts with a supplier in Central America, to controlling local distribution inside the US — are rare. Most legal cases in the US have involved Honduran groups who focus on street dealing, a phenomenon more commonly seen on the west coast, especially in Seattle. Honduran trafficking rings with their own transnational connection, and a somewhat sophisticated smuggling strategy, is a more unusual find for US law enforcement.

The existence of such a drug ring in Virginia is partial indication that, as more cocaine passes through the Central American country, there is more incentive for US-based smugglers to establish direct links with Honduran suppliers. The Honduran government seized 22 metric tons of cocaine last year, further indication of the sheer volume of illicit product now passing through its borders. Defense Minister Marlon Pascua has said that 87 percent of the cocaine which leaves South America and ends up in the US first passes through Honduras.

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