Firefight May Blow Cover on DEA Role in Honduras

Mayor says agents mistook villagers for drug smugglers, killing 4
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2012 2:06 PM CDT
In this 2010 file photo, Honduran anti-narcotics personnel burn packs with cocaine in Tegucigalpa.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – DEA agents in "commando-style" units have been quietly helping Honduran police go after drug smugglers, but a firefight this month may make it a lot harder to keep the operation low-key, reports the New York Times. A local mayor says a helicopter with DEA agents and Honduran cops fired on the wrong boat and killed four innocent villagers, including two pregnant women.

US and Honduran authorities give a different account, saying the only people killed in the shootout were two cocaine traffickers. Regardless, Honduran media have picked up on the story and are playing it up as a DEA mission gone wrong. It's exactly what the US government doesn't want, explains the Times, as it walks a fine line trying to help Central American governments fight drug smugglers without setting off an anti-American backlash.

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