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Hondurans Protest DEA Presence After 4 Killed in Drug Trafficking Incident

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

Protesters in Honduras’ Miskito Coast have burned down government offices and demanded that U.S. drug agents leave the area, following antidrug operations that killed four innocent people May 11, including two pregnant women, reports the AP.

The DEA supported the raid on the Patuca River in northeastern Honduras last week, when along with Honduran national police, they rode four helicopters tracking the landing of a plane carrying 1,000 lbs of cocaine from South America. The police say they were shooting at drug traffickers who fired first from a boat in the river, which appeared to be receiving the large load of drugs. Both agencies say Honduran police were the ones firing, not the DEA agents.

Lucio Vaquedano, the mayor of the coastal town of Ahuas, corroborated other reports insisting that the four victims were killed while diving for lobster and shellfish and were not involved with drug trafficking.

Congressman Howard Berman (D. CA) said Thursday that if such reports prove true, the U.S. should review this part of its assistance to Honduras, says the AP.

“I have consistently expressed deep concerns regarding the danger of pouring U.S. security assistance into a situation where Honduran security forces are involved in serious human rights violations,” said Berman. “The problems are getting worse, not better, making such a review all the more urgent.”

Honduras National Police Chief Ricardo Ramirez del Cid stated that his officers have a policy of not attacking when the plane lands, because drugs are unloaded by a flurry of locals who are not drug traffickers. “They’re just local residents who do the work because they get paid,” he said.

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo confirmed this is a serious problem, reports the AP, “The community turns out en masse to defend the drug traffickers because of their situation, living in structural poverty.”

The State Department says 79% of all flights smuggling cocaine from South America make their first stop in Honduras. A military spokesperson says the Honduran Military Intelligence is investigating the incident.

To read more click here.


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