Dead in Moskitia were not drug traffickers, according to authorities

Posted on May 15, 2012

DEA agentsTEGUCIGALPA.- The four people who died and four wounded in the anti-drug raid were not drug traffickers, but rather were honest, humble citizens, stated the Congressman from Gracias a Dios, Wood Grawell Maylo; and the mayor of the town of Ahuas, Lucio Baquedano.

The attack occurred in the pre-dawn hours last Friday when a helicopter with Honduran and U.S. police opened fire against a boat in the Río Patuca, in the place known as Paplaya, believing they were drug traffickers. This mishap killed Emerson Martínez and Chalo Brock Wood as well as the women Candelaria Tratt Nelson and Juana Banegas, both of whom were pregnant.

The attack also wounded Hilda Lezama de Eulopio, Wilmer López, Lucio Adán and Melanio Eulopio.

According to the mayor of Ahuas, Lucio Baquedano, the vessel had departed in the pre-dawn hours of last Friday from Barra Patuca heading toward the town of Ahuas to drop off some divers.

Baquedano explained that the people in question on the return trip were passengers and when they were heading upstream in the Río Patuca they passed a motorboat of drug traffickers who were being pursued by helicopter by agents of the National Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States (DEA). “The drug traffickers’ motorboat did not have lights on and the passenger boat did, so it was a visible target that the agents could shoot at from their helicopter,” he stated.

He said that the drug traffickers abandoned their boat and fled in the direction of Barra Patuca. He stated that as a result of the incident, the furious residents burned down four houses because they believe that the authorities from Ahuas and from the Moskitia called in the helicopter. “These raids were carried out irresponsibly because supposedly the people participating in them are specialists who are going to act against drug traffickers and not against innocent people,” added the mayor.

He asserted that they are extremely alarmed because they now live with the both threat of the anti-drug raids that kill innocent people, and the threat of the drug traffickers who want to operate freely. “We request that the case be seriously investigated, because four people died, including two pregnant women,” stated Baquedano. For his part, Congressman Wood Grawell Maylo asserted that the police raids are lamentable because they were carried out irresponsibly.

“It was with great indignation that I heard [director of the National Police] Commissioner José Ricardo Ramírez Del Cid say that the raid was a success because two drug traffickers died; in this attack it was humble citizens who died,” he said. The Congressman from Gracias a Dios presented a motion yesterday in the National Congress demanding that the facts be clarified, because now they want to make people think that the dead and injured people were drug traffickers, which the Congressman denied. The spokesperson for the Armed Forces, Jeremías Arévalo, stated that the military did not participate in the raid in the Moskitia, since it was a police raid.

According to the authorities, the Moskitia is one of the routes most used by drug traffickers to transport drugs because of the creeks and abundant rivers and streams in the region.

The Congressman presented a motion to the full session of Congress demanding that within 15 days, the Armed Forces, Police, and Public Ministry prepare a detailed report of what occurred in the raid.

TIEMPO requested a comment on the events from the U.S. Embassy via email and the press office stated that it would send the request to the appropriate office. By press time there had been no official communication.


RELATED: Operativo antidrogas deja dos muertos en La Mosquitia (La Prensa), Botched DEA Air Attack Leaves Four Dead in Honduras (Honduras Weekly)