By Kay Valle/Diálogo February 21, 2017 Honduras has a strong commitment to reducing the flow of narcotics and the start of the new year brings continuity to this goal. In January, the Inter-institutional Security Force (FUSINA, per its Spanish acronym) disabled three landing strips used by criminal structures. Located in remote areas and with little infrastructure, these Clandestine Landing Areas (ACAs, per their Spanish acronym) are equipped by organized crime to receive drugs by air, Lieutenant Colonel Santos Nolasco, FUSINA spokesperson, reported. “In the first few days of operations in 2017, FUSINA disabled three ACAs, one located in the village of Tapón de Oro, another in the municipality of Baracoa, and the third in the municipality of Brus Laguna, all of which are in the country’s Atlantic region.” Edgardo Mejía, security analyst and professor at the Honduran National Police University, believes that destroying these types of airstrips shows FUSINA’s commitment to confront those who collaborate with organized crime. “The destruction of these areas is a clear demonstration of the operational readiness of Honduran law enforcement, and it evidences the government’s commitment to go against the actions of international drug traffickers and organized crime,” he said. “The results can be measured by the number of drug seizures, the assets confiscated, the number of people arrested for illicit activity, and other meaningful actions against these activities.” Authorities disabled 54 ACAs in 2014; 60 in 2015; 26 in 2016; and three so far in 2017. During FUSINA’s three years of operation, military members also confiscated more than15,000 kilos of cocaine, almost 132,000 pounds of marijuana, and more than $15 million in cash. Technology and strategies For FUSINA, destroying the ACAs means decreasing the chance of drugs entering Honduran territory by air, according to Lt. Col. Nolasco. “The majority of these landing strips are built in areas that have a flat topography and that are isolated from population centers. They vary in size, from 15 meters wide and 1,000 meters long to 20 meters wide and two kilometers long. In order to destroy a landing area, we detonate up to six charges, which create craters that are five meters deep,” Lt. Col. Nolasco explained. Because of the geographic characteristics of ACAs, criminal groups that transport drugs prefer using single-seat airplanes. This type of aircraft can be easily acquired. It is made from ultra-light, inexpensive materials, and has a carrying capacity of up to 250 kilos. Lt. Col. Nolasco clarified that once FUSINA law enforcement officers disable an airstrip, surveillance teams permanently monitor the area so that criminals cannot rebuild it. “When they are in remote areas, the surveillance is done through technology,” he said. According to Mejía, the government is combating a criminal platform that has enormous financial and logistical resources with a clear focus on saturating the country with drugs. “In confronting this problem, with this disparity of resources, the government is showing its enormous political and institutional will to get positive results in the fight against drug trafficking.” Preventive actions Lt. Col. Nolasco told Diálogo that the flow of drugs into Northern Triangle countries decreased significantly after Honduras set up land, air, and maritime shields within the framework of Operation Morazán. In addition to locating small aircraft, FUSINA stopped other forms of transport. “We found drugs on mini-submarines, hidden among the cargo on large vessels, transported by people in small quantities, inside live animals like cattle, in automobiles, and the most unusual, in pots of honey which had a false bottom full of cocaine. This seizure took place at the border with Guatemala,” Lt. Col. Nolasco said. In Mejía’s opinion, the authorities are going to use extraordinary measures to enhance prevention. “As a first step, we should implement a strategy at the judicial level that will allow the government to commandeer these areas that are used as clandestine airstrips. The second step is to build military and police barracks on this repossessed land. As a third step, establishing permanent operations to create an exclusion zone in Gracias a Dios, Guanaja, and Trujillo,” he said. Destroying ACAs is a permanent mission since criminality is a constant threat for Honduras, said Lt. Col. Nolasco. “Success is rooted in the joint work of partner nations and institutions.” The state’s policies reflected in FUSINA allow for resources to be optimized and for help to be received from partner nations. “U.S. Southern Command is one of our main allies in the fight against drug trafficking,” Lt. Col. Nolasco concluded.
Prosecutor Samson Weah regarded the witness with a cunning eye. “What happened afterward, Joe Boyd?” “He told me that if he had his way, I would be dead.” “Why?” The witness grimaced, and said, “Because he said I was following his wife.” “Did you?” “No.” The prosecutor’s smile was triumphant, and sweeping his head away from the spectators, said, “Boyd, what happened at your first meeting?” Smiling, the witness said, “Well, I met her when she indicated she wanted to speak with me. I went closer to her and she said she had lost money to buy food for her son and wanted me to help if I could. “I thought about it and felt the need to help since she had approached me on the issue. It was not that I was really interested to spend money that easy.” A murmur swept across the courtroom. The prosecutor said, “What happened next, Boyd?” With still a smile at the corner of his mouth, the witness said, “I pulled out a wad of bills and took out Ld500 and handed it to her. “She told me how great she was to have met me, and even explained that since I moved in the area, she had had some admiration for me.” “Like a secret admirer?” The witness smiled, and said, “That kind.” “How did you feel then?” “Well,” the witness said, “I’m a man and when someone is admiring me secretly, I felt a bit good.” The prosecutor smiled. “She did suggest something to you?” Folding his hands and releasing them, the witness said, “Yes, she gave me the idea she was interested in me.” “Did you know she was married?” “No,” the witness said, “but I knew she had a child.” “Ok,” the prosecutor said, “then what happened?” “I told her I was kind surprise that a beautiful woman like her was still a spinster. “She smiled and said she was waiting for the right man. “When I asked her about the father of her child, she played my question down and said rather that it was a mistake she made in her life.” “Did you really believe her?” “Of course,” the witness said, “for I did not put any word in her mouth. “I then suggested to her that since she was a single woman and I was also a single man, I think the chemistry was perfect.” The courtroom exploded into a mild laughter, and Judge Thomas Moore answered with his gavel to restore calm, and with the statement, “The court will not hesitate to hold any spectator contempt and therefore the court insists that spectators must behave as proceedings continue.” “Thanks Your Honor,” the prosecutor said, and returning to the witness, said, “with correct chemistry, you decided to do what?” With a smile wedged at the corner of his mouth, the witness shifted his position and said, “We planned to meet and that same evening, we met at a local drinking spot. “Later I realized that a man who had come with her, identified himself as Willie Jones, was in fact the man she was living with.” “What did Willie Jones tell you about his relationship with Dorothy Toe?” The witness hesitated and said, “He told me he was her brother.” “Tell the court what occurred one week after your meeting.” Folding his hands, the witness adjusted his position and throwing his head back, said, “He came to me with a request for USD500.” “What was the reason for his request?” The witness said, “He said he needed the money to take care of some business, though he did not explain the nature of the business.” “What did you tell him?” “I told him I did not have that much.” “What was his response?” The witness said, “It was then that he began to threaten me, accusing me for going after his woman, and when I asked him about it he mentioned Dorothy Toe’s name, and I was shocked.” “Did anything intimately take place between you and Dorothy Toe?” “Yes,” the witness said, in a low tone of voice, as spectators craned their ears to listen to his answer, murmurings of excitement. “Mr. Boyd, did you kill Willie Jones or did you have any intention to do him any harm?” “No,” the witness said, “I did not,” and turning away to regard defense counsel Jason Doe, the prosecutor said, “Your Witness.” “You did not kill Willie Jones?” “No.” “But you an affair with the woman he introduced you to as his sister?” “Yes.” “And Willie Jones had come to you to credit USD500?” “Yes.” “But according to your testimony,” the lawyer said, “he wanted the USD500 to do a business that he did not tell you?” “Yes.” “And according to your testimony, when you refused to grant his request, only then that he began to accuse you and threaten you?” The witness shifted his position and said, “Actually, it was not the first time he had come to me for help. I remember two days after we had met, I gave him a USD50.” “What was the objective of the USD50?” “To help him.” “Did he ask for the money or any more at all?” “No,” the witness said, “he did not ask.” “Do you have the habit of dishing out money to people you meet?” Suddenly, the prosecutor was on his feet. “Your Honor,” he said, “it does not matter for a man to do good even if he is not asked, and counsel is finding a way for the witness to contradict himself on the good that he had done to a man who turned out to be the cause of another’s murder.” Judge Thomas Moore who had been following the proceedings, lowered his glasses beyond his nose, and glaring at the defense counsel said, “Does counsel have any defense?” In a swift counter, Jason Doe frowning, gazed at the direction of the judge and said, “Your Honor, the situation demands a careful discovery of information from the witness on what could be the inherent motive behind the eventual murder of the decedent. “I suspect some justifying conditions that apparently led to the eventual murder of the decedent that can only be understood by considering the motive of the witness.” “Very well,” Judge Moore said, “you may continue with your cross examination.” “By your testimony, it means that you encountered the decedent at least on a number of occasions?” “Yes.” “And at each occasion, he was civil in his approach to you?” “Yes,” the witness said, “it was only after he found out what had been going on with Dorothy that set him up to crash out.” “On one of the occasions,” the lawyer said, “particularly after you testified he had explained about his relationship with Dorothy Toe, did it occur to you that he was not being truthful?” “Yes,” he said, “but at some point I did not want to argue since I realized that woman was too big a person not to know what she wanted in life.” “And it did not suggest to you that the man that had come with her once in your meeting was expendable?” “Objected to as not proper-cross examination, reaching to a conclusion,” the prosecutor yelled. “Sustained,” Judge Moore said.Jason Doe ambled his way to the defense table and after a brief consultation with Janet Lovebird, his private secretary, returned to the witness. Smiling, the lawyer said, “When Dorothy Toe, according to your testimony gave the indication she was interested in a relationship with you she did not suggest that Willie Jones should be done away with?” “No.” “She also did not suggest that you should elope to another city or town?” “No.” “But by your admission, she claimed that she was a single woman and you also were single and actually would it not have been nice for both of you?” “Well…I am the man and I did not want to venture into that area.” “Did it come into your discussions after all?” “Yes,” the witness said, “it came at two times.” “Now, suppose the suggestion to elope was worth considering, it did not imply that someone had to die to get that achieved, right?” “Yes.” “However,” the lawyer moved in from another angle, “could you tell this court how it occurred that a woman who was willing to elope with you would turn around to murder the man she was willing to run away from?” “She apparently had her own motive.” “Could it be a motive that you apparently suggested?” “No.” “But at some point, you wanted her for yourself?” “That’s a fact for all men.” “But then you apparently realized she was with someone, Willie Jones in this case?” “Though I wanted her for myself…but…but…” “Why are you hesitating?” “I’m trying to form my words correctly.” “Have you formed them now?” “I need a little bit of time.” “How much time?” “A time…I’m still getting your question clearly in my mind.” “Go ahead and get it I’m waiting.”The witness mopped his face with a white handkerchief, readjusted himself and stared moodily at the lawyer. The lawyer turned his gaze to his client, defendant Dorothy Toe, whose tear-filled eyes, spoke nothing but the humiliation of having been accused for her husband’s murder. The preliminary trial was getting to its end, and though she had endured some of the most horrible scathing remarks against a woman whose life had been strangled by the murder of a man she had loved with all her life. She knew she was done, even if justice prevailed and she was pronounced innocent of the crime. Though she was unable to even imagine how life had been ruined with all the publicity, it could be that she would be able to remake her life. It was a hard equation, but the most painful was the insinuations and claims by the plaintiff that a loving wife would turn to murder and put her life in jeopardy. Her thoughts were interrupted when Jason Doe said, “How much more time do you need?” “I hate it when you shoot questions out to me like that.” “Ok,” the lawyer said, “you wanted the woman for yourself and were prepared to eliminate any competitor,?” “It’s more than that.” “Which means what?” “It was a form of frustration for me.” The lawyer turned swiftly to stare at Judge Moore, who also could not help but gave a deep frown, and address the court, “This is one of the cases that has exposed a man’s desire to use illegal means to achieve what he did not have and while the human mind is capable of inducing actions, the court finds it intriguing that on many times, people behave irrationally. “It makes little sense for one man to maneuver to get rid of another when the chances are that there are many other human beings that fill in the same position. “But we live in a different time and it makes sense to predict that man stands at the threshold of making the world better or unworthy and hence the search for justice demands a more vigorous campaign. “With the hope that somewhere in our mind man will be able to agree to be satisfied and leave others alone, and therefore this trial is concluded and the witness will be held for further prosecution and meanwhile the defendant is ordered released.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)