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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03TEGUCIGALPA2052 2003-08-29 17:46:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

HONDURAN ATTORNEY GENERAL PLEDGES ENHANCED

Tags:   SNAR PGOV PREL PINR KJUS KCRM ECON HO 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 002052 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INL/LP, INR/AN/IAA, DRL/PHD, EB, AND L
STATE FOR WHA, WHA/CEN, AND WHA/PPC
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2013
TAGS: SNAR PGOV PREL PINR KJUS KCRM ECON HO
SUBJECT: HONDURAN ATTORNEY GENERAL PLEDGES ENHANCED
COOPERATION AND FOLLOW THROUGH ON KEY NARCOTICS/CORRUPTION
CASES

REF: TEGUCIGALPA 1615

Classified By: Political Section Chief Francisco L. Palmieri;
Reasons 1.5 (B) and (D)



1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador told Honduran Attorney General
(AG) Roy Medina August 26 that he was satisfied that the AG
had taken action to improve the Public Ministry's operations
since their last meeting in late June. However, he pressed
AG Medina on the importance of the Ministry bringing to trial
and winning convictions in some pending high-profile cases.
He told the AG that it is essential that the Ministry make
progress in these areas in order to maintain a productive
relationship with the U.S. While this meeting cleared the
air and let the AG know that follow through is absolutely
necessary, the sad reality is that the AG may well continue
to do the bare minimum to meet our concerns while seeking to
run out the clock on his term of office without offending any
of the large organized crime, drug trafficking, and corrupt
interests in the country. This is indicative of the current
state of affairs in one of the critical institutions of the
Honduran judicial system. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission met with
Honduran Attorney General Medina over lunch at the
Ambassador's residence August 26 to discuss the Embassy's
continuing concern about the poor performance of the Public
Ministry (PM) in combating organized crime, narcotics
trafficking, corruption and money laundering and the status
of U.S. cooperation with the PM. The Ambassador told Medina
that he was satisfied that the AG had taken action to improve
the Ministry's operations since their last meeting in late
June (see reftel). He gave Medina credit for launching a
serious effort to improve the operation of the Ministry's
Organized Crime Unit (OCU). The Ambassador specifically
cited the removal of the OCU Chief, Mario Chinchilla, and his
deputy, Rafael Soto, as important first steps, noting that
the Embassy had lost confidence in them as effective law
enforcement interlocutors.



3. (C) The Ambassador pointed out that the OCU needed to
bring to trial and win convictions in some high-profile cases
in order to establish much needed credibility. The
Ambassador cited recent cases involving Honduran congressmen
who had been implicated in narcotics cases, including the
case of Avila Panchame. AG Medina agreed that the OCU needed
to improve its record but cautioned that the case against
Avila Panchame was still a problem. He pointed out that no
drugs had yet been found from the plane crash and tests for
the presence of drugs in the vehicles had been negative. He
also mentioned that the PM would be pursuing its corruption
case against former Commander in Chief of the Honduran
military Hung Pacheco and cases against prominent Hondurans
involved in bank failures.



4. (C) The Ambassador then outlined several key law
enforcement issues that remain a concern for U.S. policy
goals and assistance objectives with the Public Ministry. He
underscored the importance of establishing a strong working
relationship the PM's Fight Against Drugs Directorate (DLCN)
and its new director, General Julian Gonzalez Irias (ret.),
specifically warning Medina the Embassy would not have much
patience for an obstructionist in the position. He told
Medina the planned transfer of the INL-funded canine and boat
projects from the DLCN to the Ministry of Public Security's
Frontier Police was designed to better align those projects
with the GOH entities that were best able to support them
operationally and budgetarily. He also raised our concern
about the PM's staffing of the Financial Investigative Unit
(FIU) and the need for a more aggressive asset forfeiture
effort. He told Medina there were at least USD 840,000 in
cash and over a million dollars in captured aircraft, boats,
and property that could be used by the GOH in the
counternarcotics program. The Ambassador also mentioned the
different pending drug trafficking cases that the Embassy is
tracking. He told AG Medina that it is essential that the PM
make progress in these areas in order to maintain a
productive relationship with the U.S., stressing that the
U.S. wanted to work together with the PM.



5. (C) AG Roy Medina responded that he was committed to
attacking these pending drug trafficking cases and that he
shared the Embassy's goals and objectives. He said his
Ministry wanted to work closely with the Embassy and asked
that a single Embassy point of contact be designated as the
PM liaison in order to get the PM's side of the story
whenever a law enforcement or prosecutorial action was being
questioned. He confessed that it has been difficult to
obtain fully satisfactory results for many reasons, such as
lack of experienced prosecutors, insufficient police work in
collecting needed evidence, and public corruption. With
regard to the transfer of the INL-funded canine and boat
projects, he claimed that Vice President Armida Lopez
Contreras, as head of the National Anti-Drug Council, would
have to have the final say and that the GOH would insist on
following the process outlined in the 2000 letter of
agreement. He also admitted that much remains to be done on
the financial crimes cases. The work of the FIU is very
important.



6. (C) The Ambassador reviewed USG assistance programs
planned for the PM in the short and medium term, stressing
that continued progress was essential to ensuring our
continued support.



7. (C) COMMENT: AG Medina has made a real effort to respond
to the Embassy's concerns and to improve the PM's ability to
perform its functions during the last two months. This
meeting cleared the air while letting him know that follow
through was absolutely necessary and that his Ministry needs
to continue to act on many of the pending legal cases in
order to demonstrate its partnership with the U.S. However,
the sad reality is that AG Medina may well continue to do the
bare minimum to meet our concerns while seeking to run out
the clock on his term of office (which ends in May 2004)
without offending any of the large organized crime, drug
trafficking, and corrupt interests in the country. END
COMMENT.
PALMER