Honduran police uncover Mexican cocaine lab

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The Independent US

Honduran police have discovered a Mexican-run cocaine laboratory, the first ever found in the Central American country, in a sign that the Colombian-dominated production of the drug is moving north.

Police found the lab – a crude shack with a metal roof – in a mountainous area about 100 miles north of the capital Tegucigalpa. An electricity generator, barrels of chemicals, filters, scales, and tools to process cocaine were found at the site, but no one was arrested.

"The townspeople in the region say a helicopter would land here, operated by guys with Mexican accents. This is not a Colombian lab, it has to be a Mexican lab," Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said.

Colombia has long been the world's top producer of cocaine, but powerful Mexican cartels now largely control the trafficking of the drug north to the US. Central America is a strategic smuggling corridor and is increasingly a staging ground for Mexican gangs. But the lab would be one of the first signs Mexicans are manufacturing cocaine themselves.

"What we have here is a top-notch, Colombia-style laboratory which is very worrying because it's the first time we have found cocaine processing in Honduras," Mr Alvarez said.

The growing presence of the drug gangs in Central America is increasing violence in an already dangerous region.