Honduras: deadly DEA raid —again

At least one suspected drug trafficker was killed Jan. 16 in the first US-supported drug raid in Honduras following a five-month suspension in radar intelligence sharing between the countries, authorities said. The Honduran navy said that one of three Jamaican men on a speedboat carrying 350 kilograms of cocaine died when a Honduran coast guard vessel rammed the craft before dawn about four kilometers off the country's north coast. A contingent of DEA agents was apparently on board the Honduran naval craft. Rear Adm. Rigoberto Espinal said one of the Jamaicans jumped into the sea and disappeared, and his fate had not been confirmed. The third man was detained, and interrogated by the DEA. The radar cooperation was halted after the Honduran air force shot down two suspected drug planes in violation of agreements with Washington designed to prevent deaths in such operations. (AP, Jan. 17; NYT, Sept. 7)

A drug lord identified as Amaury Smith Pomare AKA "El Mello" was arrested by Honduran authorities Jan. 19 at his luxury villa at La Ceiba on the Caribbean coast—days after his twin brother Mario Smith Pomare was arrested in Panama. The twins, known as "Los Mellos de Casandra," face extradition to Colombia, where they are accused of operating a cocaine smuggling ring out of San Andrés Island. A large quantity of weapons and jewelry, as well as numerous cars, were found in the Ceiba raid. (RIA, EFE, Jan. 20; La Prensa, Honduras, Archipelago Press, San Andrés, Jan. 19)

A judge in Nicaragua on Jan. 19 sentenced 18 Mexicans who apparently posed as members of a television crew to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering stemming from $9.2 million found in their vans. The 18 evidently bogus journalists were arrested in August near Nicaragua's northern border with Honduras in six vans bearing logos similar those used by Mexican media giant Televisa. Officers found gym bags stuffed with bundles of cash stashed in compartments inside the vehicles. Televisa said it did not employ any of the 18, and the vans didn't belong to the company's fleet. But one witness at the nine-day trial in December said one of the arrested men showed documents supposedly signed by the company's vice president, Amador Narcia. Authorities are still studying the documents and a Narcia signature sample sent by the Mexican government to determine whether they are authentic.  (Aristegui Noticias, Mexico, Jan. 20; AP, Jan. 18)