AFP and AP are reporting that 176 Honduras police officers have been "arrested" and that six top level police have been "fired" [links below]. This incredibly bad and completely false reporting is being picked up and reported all over the world.
[Note: all links are in Spanish, except as noted]
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Security Silvio Inestroza announced that 176 agents all from the same police post (now being called the "cartel de La Granja") have been "relieved" of their positions and are suspected of being involved in kidnapping, vehicle theft, murder for hire, drug dealing, extortion, and other crimes. Only 72 of them were still in the elite Cobra unit yesterday for investigation and the majority of the rest deserted after an attempted rebellion. "Relieved of their positions" does not mean arrested. It does not even mean fired, suspended, no longer reporting for duty, and may not even mean no longer wearing a uniform or carrying a gun.
The Cobras is same unit which is also being investigated for the massive theft of arms and ammunition, of which involvement of up to ministers and police chiefs is suspected.
Officials don't even know where 50 of the agents are as they have deserted. Others are on vacation, and none to date have been arrested. No arrest warrants have been issued for any of them because they are merely "under investigation" and may be "retrained" which means nothing really. Every single one of them are still receiving their paychecks and will for some lengthy period of time even if the "investigations" result in anything incriminating. Even those who deserted will be given 30 days to return. According to ex-Minister Alvarez, in the past numerous fired police agents have been returned to their duties with back pay by the courts. [Image: Danger, Police in the area]
Of the eight police suspected to have been involved in the killing of the two university students [in English], four agents were indicted today. The other four, who were released by their commanding officer last week, have not been captured and a former director of police internal affairs has speculated that they have been executed. Three unnamed high level officials (or four) accused of releasing the four suspects have not been relieved of their duties or taken into custody, but not to worry, they "are available" according to authorities. That's it, other than some reorganization and recycling, some pending "investigations" (some of which have been "pending" for a year or more), and a lot of talk.
The six top level police were merely rotated to other positions are are still wearing the uniform and, in fact, some of them are supervising the Relámpago operations and are regularly giving statements to the media as police spokespersons. Others were transferred to other top level positions, including some who are rumored by police agents to be heavily involved in organized crime. They are wearing uniforms and probably carrying guns. Investigation of La Granja resulted in finding 4 ounces of C-4 explosive hidden in a toilet. One agent assigned to that same station was found murdered on Tuesday.
Even police chief Jorge Barralaga, who authorized the "days off" for the four missing suspects (and who was investigated more than a year ago for large bank deposits and the gift of a luxury vehicle — investigation still pending), is quoted in the news today as arrogantly saying that he continues to be the chief of the metropolitan police in Tegucigalpa, despite the fact that police officials announced his suspension.
Government officials have been issuing strong statements about getting rid of "rotten apples" to placate the public but the devil lies in the details, which have been very conflicting and have been reported in all the Honduran media in several articles per day in each newspaper. The government might like the international media to believe that there has been a massive purge of the police department but that is absolutely false as of today.
In La Ceiba yesterday, six persons were murdered, three of the victims in a home invasion committed by persons dressed as police. The police have no suspects in any of these cases. Yesterday, I watched someone die who had been shot in the face in a drive by shooting. That murder did not even make the news.
[Note: all of the following links are in English]
Bad reporting: Long versionAFP article
Bad reporting: Short versionWashington Post