Honduras: cable links Aguán landowner to drug flights

US diplomats suspected in 2004 that Honduran business owner Miguel Facussé Barjum may have been involved in three drug-related incidents at one of his properties, according to a secret US diplomatic cable released by the Wikileaks group on Aug. 30 of this year. The founder of the Grupo Dinant food product and cooking oil corporation and a member of a powerful family that includes media magnate and former Honduran president Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé (1998-2002), Miguel Facussé has been at the center of land disputes in the Lower Aguán Valley in the north of the country that have reportedly left 51 campesinos dead in the last two years.

In the March 19, 2004 partial cable—Wikileaks says the full text “is not available”—the US embassy in Tegucigalpa reported on a “known drug trafficking flight with a 1,000 kilo cocaine shipment from Colombia” and “a fruitless air interdiction attempt” by the Honduran Air Force on March 14. Unidentified sources told the embassy that the plane landed on an estate belonging to Facussé at Farallones in Colón department on the northern coast. “[I]ts cargo was off-loaded onto a convoy of vehicles that was guarded by about 30 heavily armed men… The aircraft was then burned on March 14 during daylight hours near the runway.” A “bulldozer/front-end loader buried the wreckage on the evening of March 15,” according to a source.

The diplomats found it suspicious that Facussé didn’t report the incident until March 17; they said he gave the police information that “obviously contradicts other information” the embassy had received. “Facussé’s property is heavily guarded,” the cable noted, “and the prospect that individuals were able to access the property and, without authorization, use the airstrip is questionable.” One source “also claimed that Facussé was present on the property at the time of the incident.”

“Of additional interest,” the cable concludes, “is that this incident marks the third time in the last 15 months that drug traffickers have been linked to this property owned by Mr. Facussé. In July 2003, a go-fast boat crashed into a sea wall on the same property and engaged in a firefight with National Police forces. Two known drug traffickers were arrested in this incident and 420 kilos of cocaine were recovered.” Earlier in 2003 another suspected drug flight “terminated at the same property and appeared to have used the same airstrip.” (Vos el Soberano, Honduras, Sept. 2)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 11.

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