Honduras Drug Abuse
From the north, Mexican drug cartels have established strongholds in Honduras. From the south, Colombian drug cartels run drug trafficking operations directed toward North America and Europe. In the resulting conflict, Hondurans are the losers. Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, twelve times the murder rate in the US. It’s even six times the murder rate in Mexico.
One of the factors in the murder rate and the movement of drugs through Honduras is the presence of tens of thousands of gang members who are part of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gang. This gang works both sides, helping both Mexican and Colombian cartels move their wares.
In September 2010, MS 13 gang members opened fire on a shoe shop in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, 100 miles north of Teguicigalpa which is known to be a base for cocaine refining operations. The dispute, thought to be over drug territories threatened by a rival gang, left 17 people dead. It is estimated that Honduras is home to 30,000 members of MS 13, by far the most of any Central American country.
Central America’s History of Political Instability Creates a Vacuum for Drug Traffickers
Several Central American countries have recently emerged from extended and brutal civil wars. Even as recently as 2009, the president of Honduras was removed from office in a move that many refer to as a coup d’etat. This political instability has encouraged corruption, reduced the ability of law enforcement to operate effectively and has enabled drug traffickers and bankers laundering drug proceeds to operate with much more freedom.
Thus rural areas like the province of Atlántida on the Atlantic coast, home to remote airstrips used by cartels and ports that can be used to ship cargo to North America and Europe, are also home to strikingly high levels of trafficking and violent crime. The capital city of Atlántida, La Ceiba, is also a port city well known for its use by those moving cocaine through the area.
Flights carrying cocaine bound for Honduras often originate in Venezuela, with much of the cargo destined for West Africa. From there, it is easy to get the cargo into Spain and the rest of Europe.
Traffickers meet little resistance from political or law enforcement bodies. Not only that, in December 2009, General Aristides Gonzales, director general of the national office for combating drug trafficking, was murdered when he took action against the cartels. His death came soon after he seized a major airstrip used by a Mexican drug cartel and threatened other land owners who had airstrips on their properties that were being used for illegal activities.
Honduras Drug Abuse Treatment Facilities for Seven Million People are Hopelessly Inadequate
The World Health Organization reports that there are 200 beds in health or mental health facilities allocated for those who suffer from substance abuse and addiction problems. These are the only drug treatment facilities for a country of more than seven million people.
Meanwhile, there have been recent increases in cocaine use by Hondurans. Of Central American countries, only Panama reports higher cocaine use. Close to one percent of the Honduras population is involved in using cannabis or amphetamine type stimulants.
In every country in the world, people deserve the chance to grow up drug-free. The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program offers people who have become addicted the chance to put addiction behind them so that they can live productive, enjoyable lives. And perhaps they will extend a helping hand to others who think their only relief lies in drug abuse or alcohol consumption.