New Year’s Bloodshed Casts Doubt on Honduras Security Gains

Authorities in Honduras have touted a decline in homicides in recent years, but a series of massacres to start 2019 raises questions about the ongoing security situation in the Central American nation.

During the first two weeks of the new year, at least 30 people were killed in eight massacres that took place across the country, from the northern Caribbean city of Puerto Cortés to western Olancho department and the capital Tegucigalpa, El Heraldo reported.

Image result for honduras crime scene

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4 Takeaways So Far From the US Trial Against ‘El Chapo’

The US trial of one of the most high-profile and prolific drug traffickers the world has ever seen is in full swing, and has been filled with explosive allegations of criminal activity and government complicity.

In the nearly three weeks that have passed since the US trial of former Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” began, prosecutors have tried to paint the capo as a ruthless criminal at the head of a billion dollar criminal enterprise that dominated the cocaine trade into the United States for decades.

Image result for el chapo trial sketch

The defense, on the other hand, has focused on the jailed leader’s closest associates and alleged government corruption in an effort to deflect the jury’s eyes away from their client and onto what they argue helped El Chapo and his criminal enterprise flourish.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

Guilty Verdict in Berta Cáceres Murder Trial in Honduras is Partial Justice

Authorities in Honduras found seven of the eight men accused in the high-profile murder of renowned environmental activist Berta Cáceres guilty, a welcomed step forward, but justice was only partially served.

Seven of the eight men convicted for the murder of Berta Cáceres await jail time

Photo: AP/Fernando Antonio

Prosecutors found seven of the defendants, Sergio Ramón Rodríguez, an engineer for Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA); Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, DESA’s former head of security and a retired military officer; Mariano Díaz Chávez, a former soldier who served with Bustillo; Henry Javier Hernández, a former Honduran soldier who served with Díaz; Edwin Rápalo, former Honduran soldier Edilson Duarte Meza, and Oscar Torres guilty of Cáceres’ murder, the Attorney General’s Office announced November 29.

The eighth defendant, Emerson Duarte Meza, was found not guilty due to insufficient evidence against him and released. Hernández, Rápalo, Edilson Duarte and Torres were found guilty of the attempted murder of Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

US Alleges Honduras President’s Brother is Major Drug Trafficker

Trasciende captura del exdiputado Juan Antonio Hernández en Miami

Former Honduras Congressman Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, the brother of President Juan Orlando Hernández

Prosecutors in the United States allege that the brother of the president of Honduras is a major drug trafficker in Central America, providing further evidence that the country’s political elites play an active role in the drug trade.

Federal authorities in Miami arrested former Honduran congressman Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández November 23 on drug and weapons charges. Antonio Hernández is the brother of current Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Prosecutors say Antonio Hernández is a “large-scale drug trafficker” who worked in Colombia, Honduras and Mexico. A criminal indictment obtained by InSight Crime says that he imported “multi-ton loads of cocaine” into the United States for more than a decade.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

Even With ‘El Chapo’ Away, Sinaloa Cartel Remains Mexico’s Top Crime Group


Photo: Elizabeth Williams/AP

The upcoming trial of Mexico’s former top drug kingpin El Chapo in the United States is being hailed as a major win against organized crime, but has the arrest really helped weaken one of the most powerful cartels in the region? Evidence suggests it hasn’t.

The trial of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo” — the former head of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization, the Sinaloa Cartel — is scheduled to begin on November 5 in a Brooklyn courthouse in New York state.

US prosecutors charged the former kingpin in a 17-count indictment with leading a criminal enterprise over the span of some 20 years, conspiring to traffic cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana internationally, in addition to conspiring to commit several murders of individuals that “posed a threat” to the Sinaloa Cartel, among other criminal charges. Six of the drug-related charges have since been dropped in an effort to “optimize” the case and “accelerate” its resolution, according to El Universal.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

Canada Marijuana Legalization Puts Spotlight on LatAm Drug Policy

18-10-15 Canada Marijuana Legalization

How will marijuana legalization in Canada impact Latin America’s black market and international drug policy? (Photo: Ted S. Warren – AP)

Recreational marijuana in Canada is now officially legal, and while the change is unlikely to have a significant impact on Latin America’s black market, it could trigger a shift towards more progressive international drug policies.

On October 17, Canada became the largest country in the world to fully legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

Lawmakers in the North American nation passed in June 2018 Bill-C45 before marijuana legalization officially went into effect this October. Canada is the second country in the region to legalize recreational marijuana consumption after Uruguay became the first to do so in December 2013 before beginning legal sales in December 2017. Several US states have also legalized marijuana despite federal prohibition and other countries in the region are currently debating proposals to allow for medicinal use or decriminalize personal use.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Canada

After the bill was passed, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a statement that it regretted Canada’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana use as it “undermines the international legal drug control framework.”

On the other hand, Canada Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called the decision a “historic milestone” in a June tweet.

“This legislation will help protect our youth from the risks of cannabis while keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime,” she added.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).

What’s Behind El Salvador’s Recent Drop in Homicides?

In September, homicides in El Salvador declined to levels that the Central American nation hasn’t seen since a truce was agreed upon between the country’s two most powerful gangs in 2012, but questions remain as to what is driving the decrease in violence.

Authorities in El Salvador recorded 192 homicides in September 2018, 57 percent less than the 442 homicides recorded in the same period the previous year, National Civil Police (Policia Nacional Civil – PNC) Chief Howard Cotto said in an October 1 tweet.

September was the only month to close with less than 200 homicides since the end of a controversial truce made between the MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs in 2012, which led to a temporarily dramatic fall in homicides at the time, La Prensa Gráfica reported. The truce ended after a little more than two years in 2014 after President Salvador Sánchez Cerén refused to continue negotiations with the gangs and instead returned some of their leaders to a maximum security prison.

El Salvador Homicides 1

(Graphic courtesy of La Prensa Gráfica)

Homicide rates in the country have been relatively stable in 2018, but the 2,560 homicides recorded between January and September marked an 11 percent decrease from the 2,889 homicides that were recorded during the same time period in 2017, according to Cotto.

Read the rest of this article in its entirety at InSight Crime (o aquí en español).