The gangs known as MS-13 and M-18, have recruited over 70,00 youths who have traditionally been the lookouts and sicarios for the capos, but they are now making an effort to take formal control of the drug trade within their own country.
Commenting at an international forum on law enforcement, Urtecho says that the Sinaloa cartel is one of the main groups that maintain a heavy presence in the area, and states that his country is an imprtant gateway for Colombian drugs to enter Mexico and the United States. He went further to say that Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán has stayed in Honduras at various times and continues to do so to this very day.
"We have also found evidence of abandoned planes and vehicles that have been have marks of Venezualan and Columbian origin that have been used to trasport drugs."
The Attorney General of Honduras said that in 2002 the gang problem in the nation dramatically grew after the massive deportation of latino immigrants from the U.S. that resulted in a replenishing of the MS-13 and M-18 ranks. It was at this time that the Mara gangs became a serious source for sicarios for the Mexican cartels, who were seeking for a way to establish security for drug shipments through the Central American country, as well as recruiting soldiers for the bloody war in northeastern Mexico.
About two years ago the top echelon of the Mara gangs began to restructure their organizations in Honduras, They were no longer satisfied with simply being enforcers and gunslingers. "Now they wanted the real power. They had been seeking an understanding with the cartels in Mexico and Columbia, to establish themselves as legitimate traffickers instead of street level thugs."
He added that the new members of the Maras gangs are making an attempt to blend in with regular society; they no longer cover themselves in tattoos or wear gang style clothing or represent colors. This is because of the influence of the international cartels.
There is of course, the age-old argument of poverty and education; the mara gangs have been around for quite a long time, the fact that they commit murders, robbery, extortion, and drug dealing is nothing new. But what has changed is their attitude to the game; the new generation wants to imitate the success of their Mexican and Colombian brethren and make a name for themselves as the legitimate leaders of their own cartels.
La Barbie in Honduras
The murder of two intelligence officers revealed that Edgar Valdez Villarreal (a) La Barbie, formed a training school for sicarios in Honduras. This incident happened a while back: when he was working as the head of sicarios for Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa cartel. The aim of this school was to recruit competent killers to go after rival groups and their police contacts.
According to police records, the structure of this group formed around La Barbie; he arrived in 2007 and 2008 and began to help plan executions of enemies in the northern part of the country. He did this with collaboration from established criminal groups who were already working in Honduras.
La Barbie arrived with about a dozen Mexican sicarios who answered directly to him. He wasted no time in "cleaning" the up any problems the Mara gangs and the CDS were having on a local level. This strategy was reminiscent of the murder of several members of the Zacapa cartel that is attributed to Valdez Villarreal when he was is Guatemala, back in March of 2008. That particular crime took place in Río Hondo, a municipality of Zacapa, Guatemala.
The Sinaloa and Gulf cartels are primarily in control of the drug trade in Honduras and other countries in Central and South America. They are working with the Atlántic, Copán, Santa Bárbara and Central cartels of Honduras to establish a working relationship and insure that shipments of cocaine travel without any delay or impediment.
Colombian police have previously arrested various criminals with links to La Barbie and the FARC (rebel group).
Among them Mexican citizen Julio César Piña Soberanís, who said he was the emissary of Valdez Villarreal. Julio Also had ties to the FARC who were a primary source of cocaine for La Barbie's group, and they were "responsible for coordinating and camouflaging multi-ton quantities of cocaine," according to an anonymous police source.
Another previous arrest with ties to La Barbie happened in Costa Rica. Walberto Salazar Cuero, (a) Guavita, was responsible for drug distribution for guerrilla groups operating in Panamá, explained the same official.