Honduran Air Force seizes drug trafficking planes

Tegucigalpa (AFP) –


The Honduran Air Force seized two light aircraft suspected of involvement in drug trafficking to the United States, the armed forces said in a statement on Monday.

The statement said that the aircraft were found in Mosquitia in the eastern Gracias a Dios region by an Air Force patrol that had discovered a hidden landing strip.

The two planes -- a white Caravan 208 and blue and white King Air -- were in good condition.

The armed forces also found containers, fuel pumps and batteries that "were going to be used by criminal gangs in drug trafficking," the statement added.

Gracias a Dios is an isolated region accessible only by air or sea, making it ideal for clandestine operations such as drug trafficking.

Authorities have been patrolling the area since 2014 in the fight against the illicit trade. That same year the government approved a law allowing the Air Force to shoot down aircraft suspected of transporting drugs.

Conflicts between drug traffickers account for seven out of 10 murders in Honduras, the government says.

Although Honduras's murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants has been on the decline -- 93.2 in 2011, 63.8 in 2015 -- it remains one of the highest in the world at 43.