Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Police Suspected of Murdering University Students

The Police in Barrio Granja are now the chief suspects in the death of two students at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras early Saturday morning. The students were Alexander Vargas Castellanos and Carlos Pineda Rodriguez. Vargas Castellanos was the son of the rector of the University, Julieta Castellanos.

Crime scene technicians descended on the Police post in the Barrio Granja of Comayaguela and impounded three of the post's patrol vehicles and began collecting the records of who was patrolling Saturday morning when the two students were killed execution style.

The two students were killed in the early hours of Saturday morning after having been intercepted coming home after a birthday party for a friend. They were taken from their car and driven in another vehicle south of Tegucigalpa, where they were both killed.

Their vehicle was found later that day with four bullet holes from a 5.7 mm "mata policia (cop killer)" pistol. One shot, fired from behind the student's car, passed through both the back seat and driver's seat of the car, probably forcing them to stop. Such guns are illegal in Honduras, but were part of the ATF's Fast and Furious project which gave guns to criminals in Mexico, and were also part of the Operation Castaway where the ATF is alleged to have provided weapons to Honduran gangs.

Operation Castaway, run out of the Tampa Bay ATF office, was shut down in 2010, with the arrest of Hugh Crumpler III, Ramon Lopez, and others, but had been allowed to ship more than 1000 weapons (AK-47, AR-15, Fabrique Nacional Herstal 5.7mm "mata policia" pistols, and glock semi-automatic pistols) to the gangs in Honduras, among other destinations. Many of the weapons were later used in crimes in Central and South America and Puerto Rico.

Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla confirmed to the press that the the material evidence points to renegade police as the suspects in the death of the two students. Police Commander Jose Luis Muñoz Licona, however said he would prefer to confirm the police were involved once they've arrested someone.


RNS said...

La Tribuna reports this morning that the shots into the car of Vargas Castellanos were from an Israeli Galil rifle, of a type used by the Police in Honduras, 5.56 mm rounds (eg. NATO caliber), not the 5.7 mm that everyone was reporting yesterday.

Jath said...

the .223, 5.56, and 5.7 rounds all use the same .224 caliber bullet. There is no way to tell which gun it may have come from unless you know exactly which brand of ammo was shot.

RNS said...

If the bullet is reasonably preserved, you can identify the make or brand of gun that fired it from the distinct patterns that the rifling makes on the bullet.

Jath said...

That is correct. Very often, the coroners do not have that much information, just the dimensions of the bullet. It would be easy to confuse the two.