Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Naming The One Not Named

Rene Maradiaga Panchamé is the name I think you're looking for, the one omitted from the press reports from Honduras about a Honduran National Police commander who carried out the hit on the Honduran Drug Czar.

Yesterday the Honduran paper, El Heraldo, released a story and photos of an investigative report internal to the National Police in Honduras that names "El Señor Director de Servicios Especiales de Investigacion, Commissionado General " as the organizer of the assassination plot that killed then Honduran Drug Czar General Julián Arístides González Irias on the 8th of December, 2009.  Then security Minister Oscar Alvarez claims to have never seen this investigative report.  The then head of the National Police, Jose Luis Muñoz Licona, made a similar claim.  The last date stamped on the report itself is 2010 when it was received by the Inspector General of the National Police.

That blanked out name appears to belong to René Maradiaga Panchamé, who was listed in multiple contemporary press reports as the Director of Special Investigations of the Police (here, here, for example) in late 2009.

This is not entirely a surprise.

René Maradiaga Panchamé was a former member of Battalion 316, the notorious intelligence group that disppeared more than 300 Hondurans in the 1980s.  Battalion 316 was founded in 1979 by General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, himself trained at the School of the Americas and in Argentina.

The Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) published a report in 2002 called "Los Hechos hablan por si mismos:  informe preliminar sobre los desaparacidos en Honduras 1980-1993".  In it, on page 474, a declassified Honduran military document from the Commander of the Armed Forces, announces the appointment of the command structure for Battalion 316 for 1987.  Maradiaga Panchame was appointed to the battalion with the title "Jefe de Equipo Movil No. I".

This was the time of Iran-Contra scandal during the Regan presidency, when the CIA was funneling arms to the Contras to fight the Sandanistas and using cocaine and other illegal trade to fund the operations.  Maradiaga Panchame was joined at this time, by Napoleon Nazar Herrera, who was named "Jefe, Secretaria de Apoyo y Servicio" of the unit, whose name appears in the same list naming Maradiaga Panchame a member.  Here he would have become familiar with, and maybe involved in the drug trade between Nicaragua and Honduras which originated from the CIA program to finance and arm the Contras in Honduras.

In December, 2009, after the coup, he was appointed by coup leader Roberto Micheletti Bain, along with many of his Battalion 316 co-workers to command positions within the National Police. 

In October of 2012, Panchame Maradiaga, and Salomon Escoto Salinas were two of the more than 99 high ranking police commanders who were put on leave, paid but with no assignment.  They failed one or more of the confidence tests being used to weed out corrupt officers.  Others, like Luis Muñoz Licona and Ricardo Ramon del Cid were suspended.  These last two were in charge of the police when Alfredo Landaverde was murdered in Tegucigalpa in December 2011, and recent news accounts in Honduras suggest they organized his murder.  They were also in charge when the University Rector, Julietta Castellanos's son and another university student were murdered by the National Police.  The same two commanders were suspended because they protected the perpetrators of the murder and allowed them to escape from custody.

We know that by 2012 Maradiaga Panchamé was publicly reported as leader of Los Magnificos, a drug operation bringing drugs through Honduras from Nicaragua while still a member of the National Police.  We believe that today Los Magnificos would be operating as part of the Zetas cartel.  His drug trafficking contact was "Chepe" Luna (Jose Natividad Luna Pereira), a well known trafficker who worked the southern Honduran drug routes across Choluteca, with whom Maradiaga Panchamé was good friends. Luna ran Los Perrones, a transportista drug gang in El Salvador.
In 2013 the Tribunal Superior de Cuentas found that Maradiaga Panchamé had wealth that he could not account for.  It made a similar finding for his fellow Police Commander and former Battalion 316 member Napoleon Nazar Herrera.

2014 is an interesting year.   In January, Maradiaga Panchamé was one of many of the high ranking police commanders who resigned unexpectedly, and before they had completed the normal 35 years of service.  In May it appeared as if he had been arrested and released, but he told the Honduran press that he'd just been in Police headquarters doing business as part of the Police Hospital program.  On June 25, 2014 Chepe Luna was assassinated in Comayaguela.

So this is the name you're not allowed to know in Honduras, René Maradiaga Panchamé, because it might endanger the non-existent investigation.

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