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PHOTOS: In Honduras, a perilous campaign

August 4, 2014

Imagine working for the police in Honduras, the country with the highest per-capita murder rate in the world. In a place that doesn’t have an outright war raging, a violent death still takes place every 74 minutes.

The shocking amount of crime, fueled by gangs and drug-trafficking, is one of many factors contributing to the mass exodus of Central Americans to the United States. Tens of thousands of Hondurans, most of them children, make the 1,400-mile trek to escape the dire conditions in their country. U.S. President Barack Obama recently requested $3.7 billion in emergency funds to help alleviate what he declared a “humanitarian crisis” at the U.S. border.

Gang violence is behind most of the crime in Honduras, and police officers work in dangerous conditions to try to combat criminal activity. Most wear masks to shield themselves from becoming targets of the violence.

Photographer Sean Sutton spent almost three weeks in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, traveling with a police investigative unit and watching officers tackle violent crime in one of the most dangerous regions of the world. Here are his photographs.

Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
As a young girl looks on, police on June 4, 2014 raid a home in the Barrio Abajo district of Tegucigalpa, Honduras where gang members were believed to be residing. Police raids involve an average of 25 officers, but the number can sometimes go as high as 260. Gangs in the Honduran capital constantly battle for control of neighborhoods and the trade in drugs and arms. Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
A man lies dead June 4, 2014 in Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa, after gunmen drove up and opened fire while he was reading a newspaper with his car door open. The man was shot 13 times at close range outside his workplace. The reason for the killing was unknown, but many businessmen have been slain for failing to pay fees extorted by the gangs. Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
A refrigerated unit at a morgue in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, contains five bodies, all the result of killings that took place before lunchtime on June 3, 2014. Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
Police officers, wearing masks to shield themselves against becoming targets of violence, guard a suspected drug dealer after a June 4, 2014 raid in the Barrio Abajo district of Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras. Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post
Guns used in crimes line the shelves at a police storage facility on May 28, 2014 in Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras. There are many such facilities across the city, holding weapons that will later be used as evidence. Photo by Sean Sutton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post

© 2014, The Washington Post

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