DEA Agents Helped Kill Two Pregnant Women in Honduras Last Week


Drug Enforcement Administration agents working with members of the Honduran military were involved in the killing of two pregnant women and two men, all of them innocent, last friday. Honduras Weekly has more details:

The deceased victims included two young men, Emerson Martínez and Chalo Brock Wood, and two women, Candelaria Tratt Nelson and Juana Banegas — both of whom were pregnant. According to Congressman Wood Grawell Maylo of the department of Gracias a Dios and the Mayor of Ahuas, Lucio Baquedano, the attack was carried out in the early morning by a helicopter unit consisting of Honduran police and members of the United Stated Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). They said that the unit mistook the targeted boat for another boat that was being used by drug traffickers.

El Tiempo reported that the two boats had passed each other in the early morning at about the time that the motorboat with the drug traffickers was being pursued by the helicopter. Mr. Baquedano said, "The boat with the narcos did not have a light, while the one with the passengers did have a light… which made it a visible target for the agents who were firing from the helicopter." He said that the drug traffickers abandoned their boat and escaped up the coast in the direction of El Patuca.

The Associated Press filed a much different report, in which a DEA spokesperson claims the agents were fired upon first, and that only Honduran law enforcement returned fire:

U.S. government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because their statements had not been authorized, said Honduran law enforcement did not initiate the shooting, but rather returned fire after being attacked. The officials said the DEA agents did not fire.

When asked about the shooting, U.S. Embassy official Matthias Mitman in Tegucigalpa provided a written statement saying that "the U.S. assisted Honduran forces with logistical support in this operation" as part of efforts to fight narcotics trafficking.

The shooting took place on the Patuca River in northeastern Honduras in a region known as Gracias a Dios. National newspapers in Honduras quoted local officials as saying the victims were diving for lobster and shellfish.

The State Department says 79 percent of all cocaine smuggling flights leaving South America first land in Honduras, and the U.S .has been working with the Honduran military to stop the drug dealers.

Nowhere does the AP mention that two of the boat passengers were pregnant women. The news agency does not even name them. Instead, it goes on for several paragraphs about the DEA's interdiction success, and how much more work there is to do. 

The New York Times has more on the backlash against the DEA's Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Teams.