January 25, 2015 / 8:37 PM / 5 years ago

Honduran president says military crackdown has cut murder rate

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez sits for an interview at his hotel in Washington, November 12, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduran president Juan Hernandez on Sunday said his use of military forces to fight drug gangs had helped cut violence in the world’s murder capital.

Hernandez said the murder rate in 2014 had fallen to 66 per 100,000 inhabitants, down from 90.4 registered by the United Nations in 2012, then the highest rate in the world.

He credited the success of a new military police unit and regular troops he deployed after taking office early last year that have stepped up operations against Mexican drug gangs and their local allies.

Mexican cartels moved into Honduras in recent years as they extended control over cocaine trafficking routes to the United States, deepening violence in the Central American country plagued by street gangs in its urban and rural slums.

“We have begun to overthrow the international organized crime and drug trafficking that had tried to take over our country,” Hernandez said in his address at the nation’s Congress marking his first year in office.

A security think-tank at the national university registered a murder rate of 85.5 in 2012 and 79 in 2013. The institute has not released data for 2014, but its officials said they would be in-line with the president’s figure.

Hernandez said troops had dismantled 45 airstrips used by drug traffickers and destroyed 6 cocaine processing labs in the last year as well as making record seizures of property and wealth from drug traffickers.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Chris Reese

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