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More DEA Death and Intrigue in Honduras

The DEA admits its agent killed a suspected trafficker, while investigations into an earlier massacre reveal little. 

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The DEA is watching Honduras from
the skies. Photo via

By Jed Bickman

06/25/12

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As The Fix reported last week, US-backed drug enforcement violence in Honduras looks set to continue. Early Saturday morning, a DEA agent killed a man in another drug-seizure operation. It's the first time the DEA has admitted to one of its own agents opening fire in Honduras, an action it says was justified because the target—who was being arrested—was reportedly reaching for his weapon. Meanwhile an investigation continues of the May 11 massacre in Ahuas, in which four seemingly-innocent bystanders were killed by gunfire from a US-owned helicopter.

The New York Times reports that it obtained (but didn't release) video of the incident, taken by an unmanned drone hovering overhead. But the video adds mystery to an event already clouded by conflicting reports. The people killed were in a dugout canoe that villagers say was ferrying lobster fishermen and families back to town. The canoe came on the scene of an in-progress drug sting, with DEA agents supporting Honduran and Guatemalan law enforcement in the seizure of a boat loaded with cocaine. According to the video—in a detail omitted from both official reports and the reports of eyewitnesses and victims to human rights observers—the canoe seemingly collided with the drug-smuggling boat as the former was docking, before the American helicopters opened fire on it. Although this doesn't clarify the conflicting stories—the identities of those killed in the boat have been verified separately as including a young boy and two pregnant women—the Times reports that the video “satisfied Congressional staff members that the American agents on the raid did not fire their weapons.” Which seems to mean that Americans are unlikely to accept any responsibility for the incident.

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