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DEA Facing Fallout from Deadly Honduras Raid

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #735)

In the Honduran village where four residents were killed last week by gunfire from a helicopter on a US-backed anti-drug operation complete with DEA agents on board the chopper, feelings continue to run high. On Monday, they told the Associated Press that DEA agents also accompanied Honduran commandos who stormed into homes and mistreated residents after the raid, but the agency denies that.

In the predawn hours of May 11, Honduran National Police and DEA agents were searching for a boat supposedly carrying a load of cocaine when they said they came under fire from the river. The Hondurans opened fire, but the boat they attacked was a small fishing vessel, not a smuggling craft, and the attack left two pregnant women and two others dead and four other people wounded.

The helicopter is owned by the US State Department and was one of four being used in the operation, which had already resulted in the seizure of cocaine from the banks of the river. Police on the ground and the door-gunner for one helicopter opened up on the boat.

The DEA said its agents did not open fire and did not participate in heavy-handed raids in the immediate aftermath. But villagers in the town of Ahuas said masked agents then landed in their community and broke down doors, looking for a trafficker they called "El Renco." The witnesses referred to some of the agents as "gringos" and said they were speaking English.

After the commandos left, angry villagers formed a machete-wielding mob and burned government installations and four homes belonging to families associated with El Renco. Police Chief Filiberto Pravia Rodriguez said he tried to stop the mob, but had to run for his life.

The incident comes as the US is ramping up its support of Honduran anti-drug efforts. The Obama administration is increasing the amount of anti-drug assistance and is working with the Honduran military to create forward operating bases to fight the cocaine traffic from Colombia en route to North America.

Human Rights watch has called for an investigation into the killings.

"It is critical that both Honduran and US authorities ensure that the killings are thoroughly investigated to determine whether the use of lethal force was justified," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for the group. "If evidence demonstrates that security forces violated international standards, they must be held accountable."

At least one congressman, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) is calling for a review of US military assistance to Honduras, where the Honduran military took part in a coup in 2009 and where continuing human rights violations are alleged to be taking place.

"I have consistently expressed deep concerns regarding the danger of pouring US security assistance into a situation where Honduran security forces are involved in serious human rights violations," he told National Public Radio last week. "The problems are getting worse, not better, making such a review all the more urgent."

Local leaders aren't waiting for investigations or reviews. They want the DEA out now.

"For centuries we have been a peaceful people who live in harmony with nature, but today we declared these Americans to be persona non grata in our territory," the leaders of five indigenous groups said in a press statement last week picked up by the AP.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


The only way forward for US integrity is to end the war on drugs.  Domestically this war has destroyed families and citizens respect for our criminal justice system.  Internationally it has driven a corrupt foreign policy.

Thu, 05/24/2012 - 12:00pm Permalink
Ghostrider (not verified)

 Why does the USA have to act as the police for the world?  The US government keeps telling the American taxpayers there is not enough money to ensure the elderly, poor, and disabled have medical care, food, or even a roof over their heads, BUT there is enough money to send people to OTHER countries to fight THEIR battles and help THEIR people get medical care,food, and housing. If it were anybody else other than the US government doing these things,under US law, they would be charged with treason and put in prison. It is very hard to understand why the US Government is so against the American people and why they refuse to help those Americans who need the help most. This is not a "Party" issue either. This is a US Government and corruption issue. If they would just legalize marijuana,it would free up a LOT of money to go after the REAL drug dealers AND give more money to actually protect our borders. But that is too simple for the simple minded in Washington. Look at all the people who join the US military and give their lives fighting for freedoms in OTHER countries that do not even want us there in the first place. I am ashamed of my government and sad that so many young Americans are giving their lives to a cause that has nothing to do with their own country.  

Thu, 05/24/2012 - 12:09pm Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

Gil and Obama tell us it's not a war.

I guess that means that this is not a war crime.

But it is a crime against humanity.

BTW if two of the dead were pregnant women that means six people were killed.

End the drug war and put the DEA on trial.

Fri, 05/25/2012 - 1:44am Permalink
Zoo (not verified)



Our helicopters, our agents participating; we were obviously in on that operation up to our eyeballs and deserve full culpability for the crimes committed during our participation.  As a retired police officer I must comment that we should be hanging our heads in shame due.  These kinds of things need not happen under our watch.


In a nutshell, this incident illustrates our own inhumanity in waging this crazy so called "war on drugs".


My heart goes out to the families of those who were killed in this incident.  This craziness must stop, the war on drugs must end.

Fri, 05/25/2012 - 8:49pm Permalink
Sabertooth (not verified)

Lets actually make some money, and tax legal cannabis. There's no side affects (besides being sleepy), no long term affects such as cancer or even death (opposite to tobacco and alcohol), and has been proven to shrink cancerous tumor size. As a matter of fact, at a recent study at UCLA, regular Cannabis users showed  reduced rate of cancer.

Educate yourself. If this so called "Drug" was legalized, there is an estimated $70+ billion revenue in it for us. The DEA is a joke it self. Did you see the video of Michelle Leonheart, head of DEA??


I know that this article doesn't really say that it was for only Cannabis, but I'm just trying to open some eyes

Thu, 06/28/2012 - 10:39pm Permalink

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