Honduras President Xiomara Castro orders an offensive against gangs similar to Bukele’s in El Salvador.

By Karla Ramos  |  Jun 27th, 2023
Honduras Security ForcesPhoto by Manuel Zelaya

Honduran President Xiomara Castro has begun to fulfill her promise to take drastic measures to fight the violence that is bleeding the Central American country dry. On Monday, June 26, the Honduran security authorities announced the results of a police and military offensive against gangs that control the country’s jails.

The offensive by the Honduran authorities follows a bloody weekend in the country, which left at least 21 dead. These events come days after 46 inmates were killed in a brawl between rival gang members., registered in a women’s prison.

The Honduran Armed Forces and the Honduran National Police, following orders from President Castro, began taking control of the country’s jails by removing contraband and weapons.

Local and international observers have noted that the recent crackdown on gangs in Honduran prisons shows similarities to operations carried out by President Nayib Bukele in neighboring El Salvador.

In a manner parallel to El Salvador, Honduran authorities conducting the prison sweep have released dramatic videos showing tattooed inmates being forcefully escorted.

The Honduras military police and the Honduras National Police, in joint operations, started activities so that prisons stop being schools for crime.

Some of the illegal items found in one module of La Tolva Prison included ammunition, heavy-caliber weapons, chargers, cell phones, satellite phones, homemade explosives, radios, and routers.

Weapons found in Honduras Prison
Photo by Manuel Zelaya

The life and safety of citizens and their property are guaranteed by the Constitution! Our mission is to defeat the organized crime that is in jails, and then we will go after the masterminds that operate from outside.” Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

SEE ALSO: Central America Homicide Rate

Human rights organizations in Honduras have reported alleged abuses during the operation, such as prisoners forced to sit half-naked, spread-legged, and near each other in open prison yards.

In response to criticism, Honduran officials, much like their counterparts in El Salvador, dismissed these concerns and argued that street gangs were the ones inflicting harm on civilians.

Honduran military police commander Ramiro Muñoz echoed Bukele’s sentiment, asking who would defend the rights of those being violated by criminals who engage in activities such as murder, kidnapping, and extortion.

This rhetoric closely mirrors Bukele’s response to Humans rights groups during El Salvador’s prison crackdown, where the president downplayed their concerns and emphasized the punishment of inmates.

Two days of rigorous military-style searches in Honduran jails uncovered unexpected findings. For example, a prominent Honduran gang leader (MS-13) was discovered in a prison different from his designated facility.

SEE ALSO: Honduran President Xiomara Castro declared a state of exception

This is how corroded the Penitentiary System is: “Cholo Houston”, leader of MS-13, is registered as a prisoner in Tamara’s maximum; however, in today’s operation, he was found in La Tolva jail. Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

These discoveries, coupled with the abundance of weapons found in inmates’ prison cells, indicate mismanagement issues and corruption within the Honduran prison system.

Defense Minister Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales expressed his determination to dismantle the corrupt prison system in Honduras, which he described as a breeding ground for criminals, to restore security to the people.

Also, after the recent violence increase, President Xiomara Castro declared a state of emergency in certain provinces and deployed soldiers to patrol the streets.