Honduras so far has suspended 32 people, including 25 police officers and two anti-narcotics officers, assigned to Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin airport, through which three Honduran men smuggled almost $7.2 million in cash, funds that were seized on the weekend in Panama, officials said Tuesday.
The head of the National Police’s special investigative services division, Ruben Martel, told reporters that 25 Border Police who had been on shift at the airport when the trio passed through with the cash hidden in eight suitcases.
Those officers will be replaced with “certified personnel,” said Martel.
“The case is being investigated to be able to determine responsibilities ... We’re going to be forceful, whoever might be responsible,” he emphasized, adding that “the law will be enforced.”
Honduran authorities have also suspended five unidentified workers in the baggage and X-ray departments at the airport, and they are being investigated in the case.
Earlier on Tuesday, AG’s office spokeswoman Lorena Calix told reporters that Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla suspended two unidentified anti-drug agents who were also assigned to Toncontin so as “not to contaminate the investigation process,” but she added that Honduran authorities have “no evidence” that they were involved in the smuggling of the cash.
The AG’s office will send to Panama in the coming hours a “team of prosecutors to collect information about the detention of the Hondurans and try to clear up the case,” Calix said.
The Hondurans carrying the cash in eight suitcases with double bottoms, who have been identified by the media as Melvin Calderon, Hugo Galdamez and Ramon Muñoz, were detained last Saturday at Panama’s main international airport and remain in custody.
Panamanian prosecutor Javier Caraballo said Monday that the funds seized from the Hondurans is suspected to be cash from drug trafficking, though he did not specify any group that might be involved