Note: The spill-over goes south also, Honduras and other Central
American countries major recipients of U.S. arms and munitions.
Pervasive corruption facilitates "leakage".
30 November 2011 Last updated at 07:01 ET
Honduras army to take on police duties in drug fight
The Honduran Congress has voted to allow troops to take on police
duties as the country confronts the world's highest murder rate.
The measure means soldiers will be authorised to conduct arrests and
Troops were deployed to patrol the streets last month after two
murders in which policemen were implicated.
Honduras is following the example of Mexico where troops have been
used to take on drug gangs since December 2006.
Members of the Honduran Congress voted to allow a reform of the
constitution to allow the armed forces to be used for police duties
"in emergency situations which affect people and goods".
In addition, soldiers may be used "on a permanent basis in the fight
against drug-trafficking and terrorism, weapons-trafficking and
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Honduras has the
world's highest homicide rate - 82.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
There are on average 20 killings a day, the majority blamed on drug
and street gangs.
"This legislation will allow the armed forces to take on policing
roles to confront organised crime and drug-traffickers operating
across the country," Oswaldo Ramos from the governing conservative
However, some members of Congress voiced concern.
"We have serious doubts about the implications of sending the army to
do police work," Sergio Castellanos was quoted as saying by Reuters
"They are not prepared to deal with civilians and this will only
strengthen their position in society after the coup", he said,
referring to the military's role in removing President Manuel Zelaya
from office in 2009.
But given the documented cases of violence and corruption within the
Honduran police force, opinion polls suggest people feel safer with
soldiers on patrol.
In October, the government launched Operation Lightning, deploying
troops alongside police in areas dominated by criminal gangs.
This was in response to a wave of violence, including the high-
profile killing of two students, with police officers accused of