TEGUCIGALPA – After two men and two pregnant women were shot dead in a boat on the Patuca River in northeastern Honduras, residents took to the streets. Demanding U.S. drug agents leave the area, they burned government offices to the ground.
U.S. and Honduran officials say local police only fired shots after the helicopter they were in was fired on by smugglers. “DEA agents involved in joint counter-drug operations in Honduras did not shoot,” the U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said May 17 at a news conference. “Our agents do not shoot in these operations. Their role is limited to advising their Honduran counterparts.”
Ricardo Ramirez, chief of Honduras’ national police force, said the operation “was carried out with the support of the DEA” and that an assault rifle was seized at the scene.
The United States maintains the Regional Security Initiative for Central America (CARSI), for which $361 million has been committed since 2008.