The U.S. government’s so-called “War on Drugs” in Central America is under heavy fire again after a barrage of negative publicity surrounding a controversial and deadly operation in Honduras earlier this month: an attack that terrorized villagers and reportedly killed two pregnant women and two children traveling on a riverboat. Fierce criticism also erupted when it emerged later that state-sponsored gunmen speaking English — presumably Americans, according to witnesses — pointed a gun at a teenager’s head and threatened to shoot if he refused to talk.
While the Obama administration has acknowledged that there were Drug Enforcement Administration agents on board the helicopters that gunned down civilians during the operation, most American authorities have denied direct U.S. government participation in the actual killings and terror. The DEA insisted that, despite the U.S. State Department providing at least two of the helicopters and some of the mercenaries involved in the slaughter, its own functionaries were acting only in an “advisory” capacity.
Numerous victims, however, described some of their attackers as “gringos,” a somewhat derogatory term for Americans. "If you don't talk we'll kill you.… Where is El Renco? Where is the merchandise?" the English-speaking drug warriors said to 17-year-old Celin Eriksson, according to his statements to the Associated Press after the operation. His 14-year-old cousin, Haskel Tom Brooks Wood, was killed on the riverboat as the drug warriors riddled it with bullet holes before and after shining a spotlight on it.
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Photo of shooting victim: AP Images