OAN’s Roy Francis
2:10 PM – Tuesday, June 27, 2023
As part of Honduran President Xiomara Castro’s vow to tackle gang violence, the nation’s military has assumed control of the prisons.
The military took over the prisons after the gang-related massacre of 46 female prisoners, marking the worst incident at a women’s prison in recent memory. On Monday, the military searched all cell blocks while prisoners were gathered in the prison yards.
Military personnel reported that they found hundreds of rounds of ammunition, pistols, assault rifles and grenades, as well as hand crafted weapons.
Footage showed hundreds of inmates sitting on the floors, shirtless with their hands over their heads, guarded by heavily armed soldiers as their cells were being searched.
The massacre which sparked the raids by military, and the prison regime change happened in Tamara. Female inmates belonging to the Barrio 18 gang had smuggled guns, machetes and flammable liquids into the prison.
The inmates subdued the guards, and attacked inmates belonging to a rival gang in their cells. They shot, and hacked inmates to death, as well as locking them in their cells and setting them on fire.
The regional director for UNICEF, the United Nations children’s funds, Garry Conille, also revealed that some of the inmates at the prison where the attack happened had their children living with them inside the prison.
“Some of the women were living with their children in detention,” Conille said. “These children are now left behind and highly vulnerable. I am deeply concerned about their well-being and safety.”
The massacre prompted President Xiomara Castro to fire Security Minister Ramón Sabillón, and replace him with Gustavo Sánchez, the head of the National Police.
President Castro said that the riot was “planned by maras (street gangs) with the knowledge and acquiescence of security authorities.”
Gangs in Honduras hold considerable influence of the country’s prisons which allows inmates to set their own rules on the inside, and be able to smuggle in and deal with prohibited contraband.
The president also ordered that all of the country’s 21 prisons will be under military control for at least one year. The military at the prisons will also be tasked with training 2,000 new guards.
In her crackdown on street gangs, Castro has also announced that there will be “raids, captures and checkpoints – 24 hours a day,” along with a new curfew that will run in Choloma and San Pedro Sula from 9pm until 4am.
Honduras’ 26 overcrowded prisons currently house over 20,000 inmates with the United Nations reporting that the country’s prisons are 34.2% over capacity.
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