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The Great Escape: Honduras stopped big coup of Maras Salvatrucha MS-18

The "mareros" almost succeed in their escape plan

TEGUCIGALPA .- The honduran police early yesterday foiled an escape plan of the criminal gang MS-18 Mara Salvatrucha. During an special op, the authorities seized a powerful arsenal at the National Penitenciary of Honduras. The Maras Plan included the destruction of the walls of the penitenciary module “Escorpión”, where the criminals are being held, by using high explosives such as C4 and dynamite.

During the mass escape, the Maras planned also to slaughter several police officers, which were assigned to guard two posts, the first located at the exit to the prison and the other in the area of El Durazno.

The Maras called the escape plan as “Operacion Hormiga (Operation Ant)” , which was being planned for several months by the leaders of the criminal organization, held at the prison.

But what the criminal did not expect was the raid conducted yesterday by about 200 police officers, some of them from the Special Operations Squad “Cobras”.

The Director of the National Preventive Services (DNSEP), Danilo Orellana, said that since a few days ago they knew about the gang’s plan through intelligence work, so the Police decided to execute the operation asap.


Orellana noted that the idea of the Maras was to wait for a little distraction from the authorities of the National Penitentiary, and then to “blow up” the walls of “Escorpio” by using powerful explosives.

The criminal act would take place in the early morning, under the cover of darkness. Outside of prison, other gang members aboard several cars would be waiting to proceed to flee with the fugitives from the scene.

Previous to the explosion the gang members outside the prison were going to shot and the guards of the post of “Yuri”, located at the entrance road to the prison and also kill the police officers assigned to the post of El Durazno.

This in order not to encounter obstacles when the Maras tried to escape and in order to avoid any immediate reaction from the National Police.

The officer explained that the operation was just the first part of the process to dismantle the Maras plan, but the Police will soon enter into a second phase which includes the transfer of the Maras gang members to another section of the prison and continue to conduct inspections in the “Escorpion.”

“We believe we will find more explosives and more weapons in the module “Escorpio”, said Orellana “which is why we are going to move them to other sites, but we must do this in coordination with the Supreme Court, because we must follow the legal requirements before we send in the demolition specialists to see what else is inside that module “.

Unofficially it was learned that yesterday afternoon all of the 156 gang members in custody would be transferred to the Army Tanks Regiment of  Recablin in the area of Zambrano, while investigations are completed in this module.

At 5:30 yesterday morning, about 200 police officers using masks, body armor and heavily armed, entered the Scorpion module, with the intention to conduct the planned operation.

Immediately, all members of the Mara 18 were taken from their cells and placed in a single row in the courtyard of the module, and only then the Police thoroughly proceeded to review the module.

The police searched the cells ceilings, beds, furniture and even appliances, to verify if inside the cells they were hiding weapons or other prohibited items.

Using sledgehammers, the agents during the operation smashed the walls and floors of the cells, because intelligence showed that the Maras did hid the weapons in those places.

It was thus discovered several grenades, C4 explosives, dynamite and  detonators, just as they found two firearms and a large amount of ammunition.


Authorities at the prison said that the Operation Escorpio included  a total of 156 members of the “Mara 18” and its main leaders are known by the nicknames of “Lucifer,” “El Sombra”, “La Pantera” and “El Duende “.

These individuals are supposed to be responsible for leading the plan to escape from prison and ordered to make the contacts so that weapons and explosives being brought to the prison.

The confiscated weapons were introduced in false compartments for items like furniture and appliances.

Yesterday afternoon, the current Under Secretary of State of the United States for counter-narcotics and justice department, David Johnson, arrived to Honduras and visited the facilities of the National Penitentiary “Marco Aurelio Soto.”

The U.S. official on arrival in Honduras met yesterday with the Security Minister Oscar Alvarez with whom he talked about the problem of drug trafficking in Honduras.

Later they both went to the National Penitentiary in Tamara, where they witnessed the work of the National Police to seize a large quantity of explosives in the module of Escorpio.

The two officials were joined by the U.S. ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens and the general director of the National Police of Honduras, José Luis Muñoz Licona.

The delegation toured the maximum security module at the prison facility that yet has not been inaugurated. The new module will detain some 250 inmates.