CENTRAL AMERICAN ARMS TRAFFICKING: THE COMAYAGUA CACHE - REGIONAL ARMS TRAFFICK

Created: 2/20/1981

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

CENTRAL AMERICAN ARMS TRAFFICKING: THE COHAYAGUA CACHE

The Honduran farclosely with the Cuban-Nicaraguan supportan integral part of the infiltration of arcs and personnel to the Salvadoran guerrillas. Honduran authorities have recently stepped up interdiction efforts but tbeir country will probably continue to offer regional leftists the potential for clandestine operations.

Regional Anas Trafficking

Of the three northern-tier countries of CentralHonduras faces the least serious threat to stability from leftist insurgents. Over the past several years, however, the Honduran far left has been integratedegional support network. he Honduran Communist Party (PCS)autious line, but in thatlarge part at Cubanbegan to support the Sandinista guerrillas against Somoza. The PCH helped infiltrate Nicaraguan revolutionaries through Honduras, as well as providing training camps and supply depots. Other Honduran leftist groups also aided the Sandinistas with funding and weapons.

The Sandinista support effort provided previously lacking practical experience for Lhe PCH and other The Cubans, moreover, doe only brokered contacts between the PCH and other leftist groups, but accelerated tbeir training efforts to prepare the Honduran left for eventual insurgency. Castro, however, sees Honduras' logistical role as being the major benefit to Cuba's regional policy. Thus, when Havana began establishing support networks for the salvadoran Insurgency shortly aftstf :tb* triumph of the Sandinistas int waa logical to include Bondurab.

Meanwhile, however, Cuban support efforts werein Costa Rica and brought alongeasuredleastMicaragua. This availability

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of alternative routes point, up one of the reasons that it has been difficult to interdict the arras flow to El Salvador: Honduras vM important; throughCOatta Ricarincipal conduit; Nicaragua is now the main pipeline.

The Comayagua Operation

Guerrilla docuaenta captured by Salvadoran security forces last November indicated that one of the Salvadoran insurgent groups expected delivery of aboutons of materiel through Honduras in Deceaiber. We believe the arras seized at Comayagua in Kid-January were the final shipment of this expected materiel.

By aid-December, significant amounts of sophisticated new weaponry were being employed by Salvadoran guerrillas. Especially noteworthyudden influxifles, which provide firepower superior to theifle used by tho Salvadoran armed forces aod had been mentioned in the captured documents.

Last month, Honduran authorities learned of anshipment of weapons overland from Nicaragua to theinsurgents, and onuspect tractor-trailer was noted at ths Guasaule border crossing. The truck: was followedarehouse outside Comayagua, where Honduran security officials srrested six.ounds6 essrani-tion, and numerous mortar roundsecret compartment built into the roof of the trailer.

A search of the warehousend the saneaaanur.ition and mortar rounds-found in the truck. Additional weapons wore discovered in wall cavities of the warehouse, along with falsecontaining numerous entry and exit stamps fromand Costa Rica. Subsequent investigation led to the BMt of several accomplices,osta Rican who reportedly arranged the truck loading In San Jose. Inecurity officials confiscated severalnd rocketthat were probably used to transport the weapons in smaller parcels to guerrillas in the border areas of northernalvador.

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Many ofound during the raid have been traced to former us Anny stockpiles ir. Vietnam during the

total weight of the Comayagua aims capture wasons; the rest of theonpresumably already had reached El Salvador.

Outlook

Honduran authorities clearly haveajor arms-support apparat through their Comayagua investigation. Barly this month, for instance, security forces were able to raid four Salvadoran guerrilla safehouaes in Comayagua, La Paz, Siguatepeque, and Tegucigalpa.

The disruption of this operationignificant setback both to the Honduran Communists and to theguerrillas, but it may not prove lasting. After similar reverses in the past, apparats have been fairly quickly reestablished. Moreover, the Comayagua operation may be only one of several clandestine support networks. Honduran authorities are investigating another operation, for example, in which Honduran leftists are recruited and0 monthly to fight with Salvadoran insurgents; guerrilla training camps for these recruits havebeen operating near La Hasica and La Cni2.

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