Collateral Damage of a Drug War
August 2012, Alexander Main and Annie Bird
On May 11, 2009, four boat passengers were shot dead during a counternarcotics operation that involved Honduran and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. Although Honduran authorities announced that drug traffickers had been killed after agents had fired in self-defense, survivors of the incident, as well as local authorities, insisted that innocent people had been killed, including two women, a fourteen year-old boy and twenty-one year old man.
In late July of 2012, analysts from Rights Action and CEPR visited the region where the shooting took place. This report summarizes and analyzes the extensive testimony and other information obtained during the visit. It presents detailed narratives of the sequence of events on May 11 and provides detailed background profiles on the boat passengers who were fired upon as well as on key witnesses. It also describes the region and context in which the shooting incident occurred, in order to better understand its impact on the local community. Finally, it offers a series of key findings and formulates recommendations of measures that the U.S. government and international community should take to address the May 11 incident as well as the broader consequences of U.S.-sponsored drug policies in Honduras and the Central American region.