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Honduran gang leader busts out of court

International 19 Feb, 2020 Follow News

Alexander Mendoza broke out of a Honduran court

Heavily armed men dressed in military fatigues and police uniforms stormed a court building in north-west Honduras and freed a senior leader of the powerful MS-13 gang.

Alexander Mendoza, known as "El Porky", had just arrived for a trial hearing in El Progreso, escorted by security forces, when the attack took place. At least four officers were killed, and three others were wounded.

MS-13 is one of the most violent criminal groups in Central America. President Juan Orlando Hernández offered a reward of 2 million lempiras ($80,000) for information that leads to Mendoza's recapture.

Police said at least 20 gunmen took part in the operation on Feb. 13 in El Progreso, around 18 miles east of Honduras' second city, San Pedro Sula. One of the suspects also died in the attack.

A video from the court's CCTV, and aired by Honduras' HCH broadcaster, shows a handcuffed man wearing a white tank top, believed to be Mendoza, being carried into the building by security forces. Moments later, armed men wearing similar uniforms arrive and force people into rooms.

After a few minutes, the man in the white tank top reappears, without the handcuffs and carrying what appears to be a machine gun and a pistol, trying to leave the building with a group of gunmen. A shootout between them and security forces, who were outside, unfolds.

The footage ends showing 11 men and the person believed to be Mendoza fleeing.

It was not clear how the operation to free Mendoza, who was reportedly on the second floor awaiting the start of the hearing, unfolded inside the building. Police officers and other authorities have previously been accused of involvement with criminals.

Separate footage broadcast by local media showed the men climbing into several vehicles and escaping.

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