Cocaine lab sparks wide-spread concern in Honduras

Honduran police have for the first
time uncovered a cocaine lab in the country.

Officers found an installation full
of barrels of chemicals and tools used to process the drug in a mountainous
area north of the capital, Tegucigalpa.

Security Minister Oscar Alvarez
said the “first rate” facility was probably being run by Mexican
gangs.

The discovery could indicate that
Mexican cartels, who are increasingly moving into Central America, are also
making cocaine themselves.

It would also signal a shift
northwards for cocaine production, traditionally dominated by Colombia.

The drugs laboratory was found on a
coffee plantation in a remote area of Honduras known as Cerro Negro, about 100
miles north of the capital.

It is thought that it may have been
run by a drugs cartel from Mexico, operating in Honduras to produce cocaine to
be smuggled into the US.

Local people said they had seen
helicopters land and heard people talking with a Mexican accent.

Mr Alvarez likened the facilities
to the best in Colombia and called the operation a “resounding blow”
to drug-trafficking in the country.

No arrests were made in the raid
and no drugs were found, he added.

Although Colombia, Peru and Bolivia
remain the world’s biggest producers of cocaine, Central America is an
important corridor for trafficking drugs north into the United States market.

A recent US state department report
said that “the geographical location, limited resources, and weak law
enforcement in… areas of the Atlantic coast make Honduras vulnerable to drug
trafficking organizations (DTO) operating from South America and Mexico”.

Mexican drug cartels, which control
much of the estimated $13.6 billion drug-trafficking trade into the US, are
increasingly operating in Central America.

This has fuelled fears that the
region could suffer a similar wave of gang violence that has left more than
34,000 people dead since 2006 in Mexico.

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