Renegade Honduran police are suspected of colluding with a notorious gang to carry out death-squad killings.
Amid allegations that an elite Honduran police force is working with the dreaded MS-13 gang, speculation is whether the administration of President Xiomara Castro has the political power or will to reform the country’s security forces.
According to an investigation by Honduran journalists, the National Anti-Gang Police Force and military police conducted extrajudicial executions and torture, while planting evidence and working in collusion with MS-13, the most prominent street gang in Honduras.
“Cases were fabricated, evidence was planted, and false positives were created in exchange for bribes,” said Wendy Funes, who runs Reporteros de Investigacion, the media outlet that uncovered the allegations. The police squad was “embedded in the Honduran state and existed to execute people”, she told Al Jazeera.
Despite newly elected President Castro’s pledge to demilitarise society, her administration has confirmed that military police – widely seen as a corrupt pet project of former President Juan Orlando Hernandez – would continue to operate on the streets. Jose Manuel Zelaya, Castro’s nephew and defence secretary, said the unit would be “directed towards fighting drug trafficking”, although he did not specify how this differed from its original stated mission.