El Chapo used Honduras as his operation base

The Sinaloa cartel operates in the Honduran departments of Gracias a Dios, Colón, Cortés, Copán, Santa Bárbara and Olancho.

Honduran authorities have raided some of the haciendas allegedly used by Joaquín Guzmán. (Photo: La Prensa de Honduras)
English 13/09/2015 11:28 José Meléndez / corresponsal Actualizada 11:28
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According to street legends, after Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped from prison for the first time in January 2001, he sought refuge in haciendas west of Honduras, near the border with Guatemala.

While he hid from the relentless international chase against him, he enjoyed hiring famous Mexican musicians and organized orgies with his Honduran and Guatemalan partners with beautiful and young Central American women.

As one of the top leaders of transnational organized crime, Guzmán went to Honduras to order his regional partners to settle their differences, avoid violent clashes and focus on transporting, smuggling, storing and reexporting drugs and laundering money in collusion with local security and justice forces.

The information was obtained from senior sources of Honduras security forces and is known by the local office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"If he ever came to Central America, it was for business, not for parties, it was to make corporate decisions," one source said.

In the last quarter of 2012, El Chapo sent a high-level envoy to Honduras to meet with a select group of political leaders at a hacienda in Colón. David Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, one of the leaders of the cartel Los Cachiros that operates in that region, attended the meeting.

Guzmán's envoy gave money for political campaigns, but his main purpose was to clarify the conditions for the business of the Sinaloa Cartel in Honduras and its money laundering network. The two main political parties of Honduras, National and Liberal, deny having received money from drug traffickers.

Fearful of being killed by political powers because they knew too much about the penetration of drug trafficking, David Leonel Rivera and his brother Javier Eriberto fled the country by sea and surrendered to the DEA, apparently in Bahamas. The brothers gave U.S. authorities details about the infiltration of crime in the country's politics.

"El Chapo" and his cartel paid US$2,400 to Honduran criminal groups for each kilo of cocaine arriving by air and by sea to the eastern Caribbean side of the country from Colombia and Venezuela, to be moved overland to Guatemala en route to Mexico and the United States.

The figure was revealed by Honduran brothers Miguel Arnulfo and Luis Alonso Valle, heads of the cartel Los Valles that operates in western Honduras after their arrest on October 5, 2014. Both were extradited to the U.S.

Although the presence of Guzmán Loera in Central America goes back to 1993, his influence in the region increased after his first escape in 2001. The contacts of “El Chapo” with Honduran gangsters were established with the support of the Lorenzana cartel, that operated in eastern Guatemala and is now dismantled.

Guzmán Loera has worked with the Honduran cartels Los Valles, Los Cachiros and Don H (the three already weakened or dismantled) and Los Handal, as well as with criminal organizations controlled by local warlords allied with corrupt politicians, military and police such as Alexander Ardón from Copán.

It is known that the Sinaloa cartel operates in the departments of Gracias a Dios, Colón, Cortés (northwest) and Copán, Santa Bárbara and Olancho (center-east).


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