|June 25, 2012
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who killed a suspected drug trafficker during a raid in a remote region of Honduras was part of an aggressive new enforcement strategy that has sharply increased the interception of illegal drug flights.
The mission, called Operation Anvil, is run with six U.S. State Department helicopters, as well as a special team of DEA agents who work with Honduran police to move more quickly and pursue suspicious flights, according to a U.S. official in Honduras who couldn’t be named for security reasons.
In little more than two months since the operation started, it has intercepted four flights. That compares to only seven from mid-2010 to the end of 2011 — less than one every two months.
The U.S. official said about 100 flights of suspicious origin come into Honduras every year.
With the new operation, Honduran and U.S. drug agents follow every flight they detect of unknown origin and work with non-U.S. contract pilots who don’t have the restrictive rules of engagement that the U.S. military do.