Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Honduras diverts US Weapons to Cartels

The website "InsightCrime" reports on a US State Department cable (not yet released on Wikileaks) that indicates that light anti-tank weapons transferred to the Honduran military have ended up in the hands of the drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia. The cable was written on October 2, 2008 from the State Department, signed by Condoleezza Rice, to the US Embassy in Honduras.

The cable cites a Defense Intelligence report entitled "Honduras: Military Weapons Fuel Black Arms Market" released on July 2, 2008. This report notes that the serial numbers of light anti-tank weapons and M433 40 mm. grenades recovered in Mexico City, Ciudad Juarez, and in Colombia on San Andres Island matched the serial numbers of weapons delivered by the US Defense department to the Honduran Army's Second Infantry Battalion TESON training center, in 1992. TESON stands for Tropas Especiales de Selva y Operaciones Nocturnas, paratroopers. The M433 40mm grenades were transferred to Honduras in 1985. In April 2008, the Honduran Army could not account for the whereabouts of 26 of the original 50 light anti-tank weapons.

Light anti-tank weapons are one shot devices that replaced the bazooka after the Korean War. The weapon in question here is the either M72 light anti-tank weapon, a single shot 66 mm weapon with an armor piercing rocket, or the AT4 light anti-tank weapon, an 84 mm one shot anti-tank rocket that superseded the M72.

Honduras Weekly, a golpista newspaper, implicates the Zelaya administration in the loss of the weapons, but the weapons could have been leaked to the drug cartels any time after 1992 and the grenades any time after 1985.

The full text of the cable can be read here.


Jeff said...

El Heraldo is reporting a little bit more about what is supposed to have happened here.

RAJ said...

There are now more reports in response to the original leaked cable. The El Heraldo story linked to here has the Honduran Armed Forces confirming the story, and identifying one naval officer as (solely) responsible. That would be convenient for the Armed Forces, although it frankly boggles the mind.

The most interesting thing about El Heraldo's reporting is that they described the current Defense Minister, Marlon Pascua, as responding evasively to questions, claiming it was part of a campaign of disinformation intended to link the military with drug cartels.

Ahem. Methinks the man doth protest too much.

The arms involved are said to have been conveyed to Honduras in 1985 and 1992. The fact that they were missing was discovered in 2008. The article seems to claim that the diversions happened in 2007.