Four family members comprising three generations were found shot dead in the Olancho department Sunday afternoon. Arturo Funez Zelaya, Aldivin Zelaya and Maycol Zelaya, and another male yet to be identified, were all found murdered in a rural area near their home in what appeared to be an ambush.
This Jan. 13 incident marks the sixth massacre to occur in Honduras in 2019 bringing the death toll for these mass murders to 22, not including other kinds of individual homicides.
The string of violent murders began Jan. 1 when in Puerto Cortes, Oscar Armando Paz Nuñez (35), Ramon Allas Cornejo (68), and Hector Hernan Borjas Rios were murdered.
Three corpses were found tortured in Yoro in Central Honduras the following day.
Honduras, una nueva caravana saldrá de la zona Norte, este 15 de enero. Los hondureños se han autoconvocado, pese a la campaña intimidatoria del gobierno y a los mensajes de Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/HGZ0ftw5ct
Honduran Deputy Minister of Security, Luis Suazo reported Sunday that the state had declared certain areas "hot zones", meaning the government would send in more militarized police forces, with the aim of stabilizing the regions where the multiple homicides occurred.
"On instructions from President Juan Orlando Hernández, security and surveillance operations were intensified in places where multiple deaths have occurred," Suazo told reporters Sunday. The government official added that the state is prioritizing the massacre investigations and that they will not stop until the perpetrators are punished.
"We are coming for the criminals who have committed multiple murders and we will not rest until we find them," said Suazo.
The Honduran rate of impunity for homicides has hovered around 95 percent for the past several years. Hernandez already increased the number of special police forces in the county to 14 shortly after he first took office in 2014. And while the homicide rate has decreased from its 2012 record numbers, Honduras registered 3,791 murders in 2017, according to InSight Crimes.
The fourth mass killing happened in Tegucigalpa when four young men and one woman were sprayed with bullets from automatic weapons on Jan. 10 as they were talking on the sidewalk. The families of the victims said that one of the killed was bound to a wheelchair. Most were aged 18.
On Jan. 13, four friends between 20 and 24 were found along a highway outside the capital tortured and within bags. Their family now says the youths were on their way to a movie when their murders occurred.
So far, there seems to be only one survivor, a person who, along with four others were shot at in the city of Tela and is now in the hospital.
The slew of violent murders with groups of young people as the targets is happening just as a new Central American Exodus, or migrant caravan, gathers in Tegucigalpa with plans to leave the capital Jan 15. Between 7,000 and 10,000 Central American migrants and asylum seekers left their Northern Triangle countries between October and November of last year looking for safety and economic security.
The United States President Donald Trump accused the refugee seekers of being ‘criminal invaders’ and ordered tear gas and rubber bullets against them in Tijuana at the border with Mexico. The U.S. government is in its 24th day of a partial federal shutdown initiated by Trump when the last Congressional session refused to allot US$5.7 billion toward his planned, enhanced wall between Mexico and the United States.