November 8, 2007

The war on drugs comes to La Gringa's colonia

Honduras police drug raidPhoto: El Heraldo and not from today

You know what I always say: There is never a shortage of blogging material in Honduras.

I was sitting here today thinking about what to blog about and, as usual, got sidetracked into other more interesting things. Finally I looked at a bunch of drafted articles for which I need more information or photos. Sometimes those drafts just get so old that I end up deleting them. Then I started looking at my recent photos for inspiration ('recent' is a misnomer because some of them go back to February!). I have a ton of chicken photos and videos but that is going to take more time to put together than I have today.

Still stumped, the phone rang. It was El Jefe warning me that there had been a allanamiento in our neighborhood just a couple of blocks from here. Allanamiento means a burglary or unlawful entry, but is also the term used for when the police raid and tear apart your house, presumably with a warrant. He wanted to let me know because they have been known to go to the wrong house on occasion...and just exactly what could I do if that happened???

El Jefe was calling from town. He heard all about it from a neighbor he passed on his way to catch a taxi and then from the taxi driver. The driver has a regular pickup of two school children every morning at the house in question. The taxista arrived to see a dozen or more heavily armed, bulletproof-vested, ski-masked police lurking about, possibly waiting for pick-up or drop-off to occur. (My comment was that if the taxi driver saw them, then they weren't exactly hiding to catch someone by surprise.)

I really, really wanted to go take photos. I mean, a drug bust in action! What more exciting thing can you think of. However, I doubted that I would be allowed to take photos and didn't particularly want the neighbors, if they were still there, to see me reveling in their 'misfortune,' not to mention that the police might decide I was a suspicious character and take me in for questioning!

The taxi driver told El Jefe that he knew the homeowner and was suspicious about him. He said the guy lived in a very small house in a poor colonia not too many months ago and now seemed to be living the good life. He said he didn't want to make judgments but he just didn't see any other way for this family to become so prosperous so quickly.

The driver was a wealth of information about other recent allanamientos. In one case in a nearby colonia, the home owners wouldn't open the gate for the police so the police threw a bomb into the gate! The driver said that there were a total of four allanamientos that he knows of. This could just be gossip, but I've found that taxi drivers usually have a pretty good grasp of what is going on.

I was happy to hear about this renewed effort against drug trafficking, though not so happy to hear that we have narcotraffickers in our colonia. I wasn't surprised though, because we have one vacant house that is said to belong to a Colombian drug dealer who left the country.

I don't put a lot of faith in rumors like this, just because it seems that anyone who is reasonably well-off is often a target of such rumors. But there is another vacant house in our neighborhood owned by a couple who also were rumored to be drug dealers. They moved away after the husband was shot in the street in town so maybe there is some truth to the rumor. OMG! Maybe all my neighbors are drug dealers!

Watching the local news tonight, I found out that the taxi driver's information was correct. Special organized crime agents had been brought in from Tegucigalpa to perform the raids. One suspect was killed.

In the recent past other La Ceiba raids have been unsuccessful in that the alleged criminals were tipped off and had already left the area or maybe even the country. That's disturbing since you know that only the judge, police, and fiscalía (district attorney's office) would have access to the information.

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