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Militarizing the Police and Killing Natives: How the US Drug War Is Ripping Honduras Apart

Human rights organizations investigating a deadly raid where DEA agents killed four people found a peaceful indigenous community under siege.

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Despite the international partnerships it’s clear that the US is leading the implementation of the drug war in Central America. This year the US is partnering with Central American security forces in Operation Anvil, a Central America wide anti-drug operation involving the US military, DEA and Central American police forces and militaries. The May 11 massacre was just one of several Operation Anvil interdictions which stirred up controversy.

One interesting example is the June 13 operation in which a drug plane crashed, killing both pilots. Though US and Honduran officials claimed the plane crashed while under pursuit, Honduran newspapers reported it had been shot down. On August 25 the Honduran daily La Tribuna reported that the head of the Honduran air force was forced to resign after an US investigation uncovered that a Honduran Tucano fighter plane had shot down the drug plane, and that one of the pilots was a DEA agent. US officials denied a DEA agent was on board.

Amidst the complexities of undercover DEA operations and corrupt police and military forces that make it difficult to distinguish the trafficker from law enforcement; the introduction of counter insurgency tactics to a region without a war; and multinational coordination of security efforts, one resident of Ahuas proposed a solution: the US must find a way to solve its drug problem that does not turn indigenous communities into battlefields.

Annie Bird is Co-Director of Rights Action, and has worked for seventeen years documenting human rights abuses with community based organizations in Central America.

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