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US State Department Travel Warning for Honduras

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The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning for Honduras to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Honduras.

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Honduras each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work. However, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. San Pedro Sula is considered to be the world’s most violent city, with 159 murders for every 100,000 residents in 2011. These threats have increased substantially over the past several years, and incidents can occur anywhere. In January 2012, the Peace Corps withdrew its volunteers from the country to conduct an administrative review of the security situation. 

U.S. citizens do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations generally have lower levels of crime and violence than other areas of the country. Moreover, tourists traveling with group tours only rarely report criminal incidents. In June 2012, the government agreed to increase police presence in areas frequented by tourists, such as the Copan Mayan ruins and Roatan. The government also established special tourist police forces in Copan and Roatan and is evaluating this option in other locations. Additionally, major hotels and other tourist installations have increased security, including with the help of police, in response to the crime epidemic.

A majority of serious crimes are never solved; of the 24 murders committed against U.S. citizens since January 2010, police have closed none. Members of the Honduran National Police have been known to engage in criminal activity, such as murder and car theft. The Government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases, and to deter violent crime. The Honduran government is in the early stages of substantial reforms to its criminal justice institutions.

Transnational criminal organizations conduct narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout the country and use violence to control drug trafficking routes and carry out other criminal activity. Other criminals, acting both individually and in gangs in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, commit crimes such as murder, kidnapping, carjacking, armed robbery, rapes, and other aggravated assaults.

Kidnappings and disappearances are a concern throughout the country. Kidnapping affects both the local and expatriate communities, with victims sometimes paying large ransoms for the prospect of release. Kidnapping is believed to be under reported.

U.S. citizens should be vigilant of their surroundings at all times, especially when entering or exiting their homes or hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces. Whenever possible, travel in groups of two or more persons. Avoid wearing jewelry and do not carry large sums of money or display cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables. Avoid walking at night in most areas of Honduras, and do not walk alone on beaches, historic ruins, or trails. Incidents of crime along roads, including carjacking and kidnapping, are common in Honduras. Motorists should avoid traveling at night and always drive with their doors locked to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested downtown streets.

The location and timing of criminal activity is unpredictable. We recommend that all travelers exercise caution when traveling anywhere in Honduras. However, certain areas of the country demonstrate higher levels of criminal activity than others. Honduran “departments” (a geographic designation similar to U.S. states) with crime rates higher than the national average include:

Atlantida (where La Ceiba is located), Colon, Copan (where the Mayan ruins are located), Cortes (where San Pedro Sula is located), Francisco Morazan (where Tegucigalpa is located), Ocotepeque, Yoro

Certain areas of Olancho, particularly the municipalities of Catacamas, Juticalpa, San Francisco de la Paz, and Santa Maria de Real, also report a significantly high crime rate.

Copyright © 2012, U.S. Department of State

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