TEGUCIGALPA — The Central American countries of the "Northern Triangle" (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) have long battled gang wars and drug-related crime that have left the region's cities among the world's most dangerous.
Individual attempts in the past to defuse the crisis, including local gang truces and national crackdowns on drugs, have been largely in vain. Now, Honduran daily El Heraldo reports that the three neighbors are uniting to form a tri-national military force to take on the region's myriad drug gangs, which increasingly have links across borders.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández first proposed the idea last month, declaring it a necessary solution to end the proliferation of violence and drugs in the region. He later visited his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales and dispatched a government delegation to El Salvador to hold high-level talks on the new force, which would coordinate crackdowns and share information.
The investigative organization InSight Crime says the estimated 70,000 members of drug gangs in the Northern Triangle typically have little trouble crossing borders, which makes it difficult for one country to defeat them alone. Security and defense ministers from the three nations, including prosecutors, have already met to lay down plans, but no clear timetable has yet been announced.
"If the three countries really do implement a joint security strategy, it will definitely bring good results," says Migdonia Ayestas of the National Autonomous University of Honduras' Observatory on Violence. "Transnational crime can only be defeated with transnational strategies."