|Wikileaks:||View 02TEGUCIGALPA2555 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||MASS MCAP PARM PGOV PREL HO|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L TEGUCIGALPA 002555 SIPDIS STATE FPR WHA/CEN E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/11/2012 TAGS: MASS, MCAP, PARM, PGOV, PREL, HO SUBJECT: HONDURAS TO INVESTIGATE NACO ARMS THEFT REF: USDAO TEGUCIGALPA 091651Z AUG 02 Classified By: POLCHIEF FRANCISCO PALMIERI, Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d) 1. (U) SUMMARY: On August 28, the Honduran Armed Forces (HOAF) designated Army Auditor General Colonel Rodolfo Reyes Argueta to investigate the alleged robbery of 230 of 790 AKMS-type assault rifles from the arms cache in Naco. The weapons were stored under court injunction in a Honduran military facility, and were discovered missing on July 31 during a spot check conducted by a prosecutor from the Task Force against Organized Crime. END SUMMARY. ------------------------ SETTING THE BATTLE SCENE ------------------------ 2. (SBU) The small town of Naco hosts the 4th Logistical Base (CALE) and a large cache of weapons and artillery. In 1985, Longlac Enterprises, a Panamanian-registered arms importer, sent weapons to Honduras on deposit for use by the HOAF. After years of poor storage and neglect, the cache became a serious hazard, and in 1993 an explosion killed two people. In 2001 the GOH destroyed the unstable weapons, and moved the remaining weapons to a more secure storage facility - to eliminate the threat to the nearby population and to reduce the risk of pilferage. 3. (C) Meanwhile, Longlac sold the cache of arms to Miami-based Samco Global Arms. For several years, there has been a complicated legal battle over the ownership of the weapons and who is responsible for removing them. Currently, the Honduran courts control the storage facility and the inventories. The legal battle became even more complicated when Samco sued the GOH in Miami and the GOH counterclaimed. (COMMENT: Post is concerned that the weapons might fall into the hands of arms traffickers or terrorists, and we have advised the GOH of the U.S. willingness to assist in the destruction or disposal of the remaining cache once ownership is established. END COMMENT.) ---------------------- MISSING ASSAULT RIFLES ---------------------- 4. (C) On July 31, 2002, the prosecutor from the Task Force against Organized Crime conducted a spot check, accompanied by a Court Clerk from the Fourth Circuit of the Honduran Criminal Court, a DAO military attache, and a team of arms experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency. The prosecutor conducted the spot check using an inventory attested to by affidavit of the Chief Judge of the Fourth Criminal Court of San Pedro Sula and the Commander of the CALE dated July 31, 2001. Moreover, the affidavit certified that the cache was being stored under court order and that the keys to the storage facility were maintained in the custody of the Court. 5. (C) Among other arms and ammunition, the inventory included 790 AKMS assault rifles that are Chinese-made AKMS type 56-1-copies of the Soviet folding stock AKMS. The recent spot check revealed that 230 of the AKMS are missing, presumably stolen. (NOTE: The Honduran press erroneously reports that there are "more than 500 AK-47s" missing. See Reftel for more detailed information about the missing weapons. END NOTE.) ------------------- HOAF INVESTIGATION? ------------------- 6. (U) On August 28, the high command of the HOAF designated Army Auditor General Colonel Rodolfo Reyes Argueta and "Captain of Justice" (comparable to the U.S. JAG) Fernando Ruiz Figueroa to investigate the alleged theft of the arms. Post has no information on either of the individuals that the HOAF appointed to investigate the theft. 7. (C) COMMENT: Post concurs with DAO,s assessment in Reftel that the theft was an inside job involving military personnel. While the military guards are the likely suspects, it is highly probable the HOAF officers were also involved. Embassy staff will monitor what progress (if any) is made in this investigative effort of the HOAF, but is pessimistic that the investigation will move forward. The GOH and HOAF do not enjoy a good track record with respect to rooting out and addressing corruption. END COMMENT. PIERCE
Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04