The Honduran Armed Forces and National Police jointly dismantled 90 criminal gangs between January 1 and August 18 – including the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (M-18) – as part of an ongoing initiative to improve public safety. By removing so many violent gang members off the street, the joint operations have helped reduce the number of homicides in Honduras, according to Infantry Colonel José Antonio Sánchez, an Armed Forces spokesman. By Dialogo October 01, 2015 And will the employees whose assets were seized also be punished by kicking them out to the street? Reduced violence through international cooperation Support from the U.S. has also proven a vital component in Honduras’ battle against transnational crime. Between January 1 and September 10 of this year, there were 3,450 killings nationwide, according to figures from the Online Police Statistics System – a rate that would likely total 4,600 homicides by the end of the year. That’s a dramatic drop from 2014, when authorities counted a total of 5,891 murders. In collaboration with forces from Canada, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom, Operation MARTILLO is a maritime action aimed at combating transnational criminal organizations, limiting their ability to use Central America as a transshipment point. Between January 2012, when the operation was launched, and March 2015, that initiative has resulted in the arrests of 400 suspects and the seizure of 600 tons of cocaine, which had a market value of about $8 billion. “The United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is a key ally not only for Honduras, but for the entire Central American region. In 2014, Operation MARTILLO prevented 158 tons of cocaine from being smuggled into the country.” Additionally, in January 2014, SOUTHCOM supported Honduras’s implementation of Plan Morazán, a joint security effort to protect Hondurans, reduce crime rates and improve citizen security by improving democratic governance, security, and economic development. The plan included the integration of the National Intelligence Investigation Bureau, the Armed Forces, the National Police, and other justice and government agencies to provide an interdiction and response capability able to execute counter drug operations, and actions against other illicit criminal organizations and activities, resulting in reduced crime rates and improved citizen security in Honduras. “These groups threaten the population in 12 departments [of the country’s 18],” said Deputy Police Commissioner Leonel Sauceda, spokesman for the Ministry of Security. “However, these daily operations have allowed us to arrest all members of these 90 gangs.” Additional support from the U.S. Figures from the Online Police Statistics System show that Honduras recorded 5,891 murders in 2014. If killings continue at this rate, there would be about 4,600 homicides by the end of 2015, a dramatic reduction from the 2014 total. “The cooperation agreements the government of Honduras has signed … with our neighbors Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, have allowed our border patrols to prevent the Barrio 18 and Salvatrucha gangs, and drug traffickers, from continuing to enter our countries and operate with impunity,” Col. Sánchez explained. Additionally, the joint operations resulted in the capture of 472 alleged criminals, from whom authorities seized 152 firearms, 77 cellphones, 36 vehicles, 29 military and police uniforms, 26 fragmentation grenades, and 700,000 lempiras in cash (about $31,000). In total, they detained 51 alleged gang leaders allegedly involved in a wide array of criminal activities, including extortion (which criminal groups call a “war tax”), murder, murder-for-hire, illegal possession of weapons, robbery, and drug distribution. “The success of this security strategy can be seen in the notable decrease in crime rates,” said Wilfredo Méndez, a security analyst and coordinator of the Honduran Commission for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH). In pursuit of that strategy, he added, international cooperation with the U.S. and other partner nations has proven beneficial to everyone involved. “Organized crime is a transnational evil, and we must deal with it in transnational efforts. Only by uniting our efforts across the region, and with support from friendly nations, will we be able to defeat these criminals. There’s a saying that ‘the good outnumber the bad,’ and united we will show them that this is true, and we want to live in peace and free from drugs.”
The Trojans headed into last weekend’s Beach Invitational and Mt. SAC Relays with high expectations and did not disappoint, putting up impressive performances in both meets. The team combined for six first-place finishes, breaking school records along the way. The team heads into its last meet of the regular season next Sunday at UCLA with the No. 9-ranked men’s team and the No. 2-ranked women’s team in the nation.Redshirt junior hurdler Dior Hall races to the finish line. Katie Chin | Daily TrojanThe Trojans’ performance at the Mt. SAC Relays was headlined by the women’s 4x100m relay team’s victory with a school record-setting time of 42.57. Redshirt sophomore Angie Annelus, seniors Kendall Ellis and Deanna Hill and freshman TeeTee Terry ran blistering times against elite competition, including a USA team featuring former Trojan and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix.Terry went on to break another school record individually, as she blazed a time of 10.99 in the women’s 100m dash invitational. Remarkably, she beat out 2016 Olympic silver medalist Tori Bowie, who finished second with a time of 11.04. Terry’s time is the best in the country this season. Annelus also secured a victory in the women’s 100m open dash the day before, with a time of 11.44.Unsurprisingly, sophomore Michael Norman won the men’s 400m race once again, running a time of 44.53. Junior Rai Benjamin gave the Trojans a second-place finish in the event as well, on a time of 44.74. Freshman Cameron Samuel won the men’s 400m hurdles, setting a PR of 50.95. His performance put him into the top-15 times of the season nationally.Sophomore Anna Cockrell finished third in the women’s 400m hurdles, with a season-best time of 56.66. Senior Kendall Ellis placed third in the women’s 400m invitational, running a 51.43. Redshirt senior Nick Ponzio placed second in the men’s shot put invitational, with a best distance of 62-1.75. Redshirt senior Breana Jemison rounded out the meet for the Trojans with a second-place finish in the women’s shot put invitational, with a best throw of 54-11.25.The Trojans made their presence felt at the Beach Invitational held in Long Beach last weekend as well. Sophomore Courtney Corrin won the women’s long jump, with a best leap of 21-2.25, which is a season best. Senior Madisen Richards came in second behind her, with a PR of 20-8.00. Redshirt senior Eric Sloan took third in the men’s triple jump with a best of 51-9.75, the best among collegians at the meet. Redshirt sophomore Nathan Bultman placed ninth in the men’s hammer throw with a best mark of 208-2, which was also the best among collegians. This weekend, the Trojans head into their last meet of the regular season with the Dual Meet against UCLA, an annual tradition. This year’s iteration of the event will be held at UCLA’s Drake Stadium. School pride will be on the line as the two bitter rivals battle for dominance once again in direct competition. The Trojan women won last year’s meet, while the men fell to the Bruins. Both teams will look to bring home victories and bragging rights on Sunday.