Honduran Mayor Arrested for Smuggling 90 Tons of Cocaine to the US
Alleged Links with Three Drug Cartels
A Honduran mayor was arrested on Sunday for allegedly working with three drug cartels to smuggle 90 tons of cocaine to the United States by boat and plane, according to the prosecutors’ office.
Wilmer Manolo Wood, the mayor of Brus Laguna, a remote town in the Mosquitia region that borders Nicaragua, was taken into custody in La Ceiba, a city in northern Honduras.
Jorge Galindo, a spokesperson for the Honduran prosecutors’ office, said that Wood was accused of collaborating with Los Piningos, Los Yanez and Los Amador cartels, which operate in the Caribbean coast of Honduras.
Galindo also said that Wood personally received 30 tons of cocaine and moved it through Honduras so it could be transported to the US.
Neither Wood nor his lawyers were immediately available for comment.
A Long History of Drug Trafficking
Authorities believe that Wood became involved in drug trafficking over 15 years ago and began running operations on his own account eight years ago.
The public ministry said that Wood was involved in the docking of 15 boats that came from Colombia and passed through Honduras on their way to the US.
Wood’s arrest came amid a series of raids and inspections along the Atlantic coast, as part of a joint operation between Honduran and US authorities to combat drug trafficking.
Local authorities believe that Mexican drug cartels supplying the US bring cocaine through Central America and Mexico after it is carried from Colombia by boat or plane to the Mosquitia region and other parts of Honduras’ Atlantic coast.
A Political Context
Wood’s arrest also comes in a political context, as Honduras has been facing a crisis of corruption and violence related to drug trafficking.
Former President Juan Orlando Hernandez was extradited to the US on drugs and weapons charges last year, after being accused of accepting bribes from drug traffickers and providing them with protection.
Current President Xiomara Castro, who took office in January, is meanwhile pushing a crackdown on crime and has repeatedly extended emergency powers across the country.
Castro has vowed to reform the security forces and the justice system, as well as to cooperate with international anti-corruption bodies.
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