Digital Library

Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

InSight Crime and the Asociación para una Sociedad mas Justa

  • 9 April 2018
  • Posted by: Nicolas Devia
  • Number of views: 1860
Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

"Honduras does not produce weapons, but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading detection, although many of them have a single origin. Nor does arms trafficking appear to be dominated by any one criminal group. In fact, arms trafficking appears to be as much a crime of opportunity for many individuals -- uniformed and civilian alike -- in Honduras as it is an established criminal activity for small and large groups of criminals, many of whom are also involved in other crimes such as international drug trafficking. The varied nature of the trade, the numerous means of trafficking weapons, and the shortfall in controls and regulatory agencies involved in policing it make this a very difficult crime to counter."

"The most important source for weapons trafficked into Honduras is the United States, according to Honduran and US officials interviewed for this report. The statements are supported by the available statistics. Honduran officials say that most of the non-registered weapons seized in crime scenes came from the United States. US officials say it is slightly less than half.

In a report issued in 2010, ATF said that as much as 40 percent of weapons recovered from Honduran crime scenes came from the United States. The estimate was based on police statistics provided to the ATF and crossed with ATF's own e-trace system, which tracks sales of weapons purchased in the United States; they traced 1,609 guns from Honduras between 2008 and June 15, 2011."

"According to various Honduran government sources, Nicaragua is a prime source of illegal weapons brought into the country. They offer scant evidence to back up this claim, but there is a plethora of unregistered weapons still circulating in the neighboring country. According to a United Nations report, there are 35 guns for every active-duty soldier in Nicaragua, compared to eight guns for every active duty soldier in Honduras. (In all, the UN report says there are 870,000 weapons registered to security forces in Central America, far surpassing the number of soldiers and police in the region.)"

“Other sites of the Central American civil wars are also potential suppliers for Honduras’ black market, most notably Guatemala. Guatemala has the largest arms market, by far, in the region. The country has an estimated 1.9 million weapons in circulation, according to Small Arms Survey data quoted by the UNODC, and fewer than 600,000 of them are legally registered to civilians or the security forces. The World Bank put the number of firearms in civilian hands at 1.95 million, with only 147,000 legally registered. Like Honduras, it has liberal gun laws and a vibrant private security economy that includes dozens of companies, many of which are run by ex-military personnel. Networking amongst these former military with the government is near constant, resulting in a partially privatized state security apparatus.”

“The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country’s sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have to release information regarding their purchases and have been granted great leeway with regards to the weapons they can possess. As noted at the onset of this study, the police, who are tasked with registering weapons, have trouble keeping track of what they have confiscated. Police stockpiles are also vulnerable.”


Country:United States of America
Institution:InSight Crime and the Asociación para una Sociedad mas Justa
Author:Steven Dudley

Documents to download

Nicolas DeviaNicolas Devia

Other posts by Nicolas Devia

Contact publisher

Please login or register to post comments.

Contact publisher