Smuggling Through Utila
A Record Cocaine Bust on the Island. No one Arrested

February 1st, 2009
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private]

A Honduran soldier guards cocaine found on the beach and loaded into a truck. (photo: Utila East Wind)

A Honduran soldier guards cocaine found on the beach and loaded into a truck. (photo: Utila East Wind)

Honduran police and army interrupted a drug transfer and smuggling operation at Utila airport on the night of January 26-27. “We heard helicopters moving all night,” said one Utila resident.

Two boats were found abandoned by the airport beach with cocaine bundles laying in piles nearby. A plane registered in Venezuela was found abandoned at the Utila airport with some cocaine still on-board. In total 1,500 kilo of cocaine has reportedly been found, its total value on Honduran streets at $12 million. The cocaine was burned on January 30 at the Utila airport.

On January 27, 28 and 29 police and Honduran army officials flooded the streets of Utila town, but made no arrests. According to local sources at least one person suspected to be part of the smuggling operation left the island on the January 28, 6:20am ferry to La Ceiba. His clothes were soaking wet, yet the police did not control the people leaving the island right after the raid.

Many Utilans felt frustrated by the ineffective way in which the smuggling operation was handled. Others felt scared about the rising presence of drug smugglers on the island. “As often as once a week planes land at night at the airport,” said one Utila resident. The landing strip has no security or lights and is adjacent to a beach.

Both Utila as well as Guanaja airports are used as reloading points in smuggling operations. Drugs are carried from Columbia in stripped down planes, then transferred to speedboats for further journey to Mexico and the US. [/private]

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