Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Head of Police

Overnight, Porfirio Lobo Sosa fired his head of Police, Ricardo Ramirez del Cid, who had been in office about six months, and replaced him with Juan Carlos "el Tigre" Bonilla Valladares.  Ramirez del Cid will be assigned another job sometime in the future.  In the meantime, he'll still collect his salary.

What do we know about his successor?

Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares is a graduate of the Carabineros police academy in Chile.  Back in 2002 he was accused by human rights organizations of violations of human rights, but was acquitted by the Honduran courts when the prosecutor quit, mid case.

He had been alleged to be a member of "Los Magnificos", a group composed of ex-police and current police that was carrying out an assassination campaign against the youth of Honduras. Los Magnificos arose out of the Maduro administration's get tough attitude towards gangs.  Even suspicion of being a gang member was the crime of "illicit association", punishable by a mandatory 30 year jail sentence. 

(This, by the way, is when Honduras began to experience the jail overcrowding that led to the current prison problems and inhumane conditions.)

Marta Borjas, then head of Internal Affairs of the Honduran Police, said that at least 20 police units operating under the name "Los Magnificos" were murdering suspected gang members in Honduras.

El Faro published a profile of Bonilla when he was commander of the Police in the Department of Copán in 2011, where the drug trade with Guatemala thrives. Three villages in Copan were described as under drug trafficker control: El Paraiso, La Jigua, and El Espiritu.

Bonilla filed complaints about the commander to whom he reported, Jorge Baralaga, for overruling him and allowing the police force in Copan to provide security for the drug-linked mayor of El Paraiso, saying
"Why are we leaving the whole department unguarded to guard one lost mayor?"

Each of the 60 police officers that made up the Copan Department police force, and 20 soldiers, were paid 1000 lempiras by the mayor for their participation in his inauguration.

This reported complaint seems to suggest that Bonilla was not content to work for the drug trafficking political elite.

This is consistent with his actions after his transfer from the department of Copán, to Olancho in October 2011. There, he also named police officers allied with the drug traffickers.

In a press conference this morning, Bonilla said he took away three lessons learned during Ramirez del Cid's tenure as head of the police:  that he needs to speed up the cleanup of the police, that he needs full control of the penitentiaries, and that he needs to reduce crime.

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