By Tommy Vawter
In the dark and deadly underworld of narco-trafficking down here in Central America, where ruthless people of limited education and meager beginnings are transformed almost overnight into multi-millionaires, to the point that they no longer count the cash money that is flowing in. They have to weigh it because counting it all takes too long.
It seems almost inevitable that sooner or later, some of these modern day pirates of this multi-billion dollar industry are going to burry some of their ill-gotten gains in secret locations.
I am sure that the reasons for hiding some of their wealth varies from one drug lord to another. Some hide their treasure for old age retirement, some to us as an emergency escape in case they are being hunted by new drug lords wanting to take over precious territory and drug transportation routes, and some to save in case the authorities are moving in on them and they need to buy their way out of jail or prison.
So, the other day I’m reading a story in the Honduran newspaper LaPrensa, and I see the headline “Valle family has buried 500 million”. The story goes on to say that the search continues in the mountains of the village The Spirit, in Florida, Copán, in western Honduras. The information indicates a tunnel where the Valle brothers have hid some 500 million dollars in cash, cars and other goods.
The only information authorities have is that the there is a secret passage about a half of a kilometer from the village Spirit, but they do not have an exact location of the site.
Authorities claim to have collected reliable information on the existence of a tunnel. The story goes on to state that when they built their homes in the community, they designed secret underground passages that serve them not only to hoard money, drugs and weapons, but also as an escape route in the event they were descended upon by authorities.
The National Police have already recovered 11 million dollars in cash from a water tank buried in grounds of another property in Las Crucitas, Florida in the department of Copán, and state that the fortune is the product of a 360 million dollar a year operation moving drugs from Honduras to the United States.
This is just the most recent case, and I can only wonder how many other drug lords have also hidden some of their treasure.
Honduras has a Law against money laundering, this Law allows for the confiscation of goods of illicit origin. This policy has allowed the Prosecutor Against Organized crime in conjunction with the Department of Anti-Narcotics (DLCN), to seize in the last four years 378 properties, 237 bank accounts and 49 commercial companies involved in drug trafficking. Over the last ten years authorities have also seized 43 aircraft, 724 vehicles, 176 boats, 1,200 head of cattle, 210 fighting cocks and a hundred horses.
If authorities are unable to locate these tunnels, this will most defiantly go down as yet another treasure legend worthy of a search.
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Y’all remember about 5 months ago we were talking about the crew of the Aqua Quest, and their miss-adventure down in Honduras and how the Capitan and her crew ended up spending some 52 days in the squealer of a sorry excuse of a prison located in the department of Gracias a Dios (Thank God), in La Mosquitia region of northern Honduras on trumped up weapons smuggling charges.
To his credit, Capt Mayne did not cave to the pressure to pay extortion money to some local officials, but they paid a heavy price in term of the loss of their freedom, and the constant worry of friends and family back home.
The six Americans were finally released from prison on the 26th of June, and then headed home to Tarpon Springs, Florida. On the July 2nd, the Aqua Quest and her crew sailed into their home port to a hero’s welcome.
Well, it is often said that us Treasure Hunters are a different breed, and that many are cut from the same cloth as other Explorers and Adventurers that have gone before us. This is defiantly the case for Capt Mayne and his crew. As I am writing this, Capt Mayne is back in Honduras meeting with local officials in several municipalities, signing exclusive 5 year agreements to continue with his salvage operation of ancient Mahogany logs in the Mosquitia region of northern Honduras.
While Bob and his crew have made many friends in Honduras as a result of their efforts to assist the native Mosquitia Indians with some profit sharing from the Mahogany Log project and the promise of other Humanitarian aid. I would venture to say that in the back of his mind he must be thinking that he has also made a few enemies during their ordeal earlier this year.
Northern Honduras is one of the most stunningly beautiful places that I have had the pleasure to visit, and I fully understand the desire to return. On the 12th of August TreasureWorks temporarily pulled the plug on our plans to set up an operation in northern Honduras, in part because of security concerns. In the meantime, we have moved down to Panama, but the desire to return to Honduras burns bright.
Honduras is also one of the most dangerous places on the earth, and the UN has rated Honduras as the most deadly country in the world for the last four years with an annual murder rate of 90.4 per 100,000 residents. In part due to narco-traffickers who often operate with the support of some corrupt government officials, but mostly due to gang related violence exported from Los Angeles, California prisons and brought on by mass poverty.
Capt. Mayne has not yet announced when he and his crew will be returning to Honduras.
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BELIEZE - A group of tourists visiting the archaeological site of El Caracol, in the border area between Guatemala and Belize were able to document in this video, an armed incident which killed a park ranger. The attack, apparently perpetrated by illegal traffickers of a plant named Xate (Shatay), with whom the park rangers maintain a constant battle.
The video was captured by tourists and published in a Belizean media, revealing that at the time of the shooting the group of visitors were at the top of the complex in the center of the ruins, accompanied by local guide who immediately asked them to take shelter between the walls.
The body of Danny Conorquie, a guard at the site, was located on the side of one of the trails in the main square of the park and was immediately guarded by fellow agents according conversations evidenced in amateur video. Officials blame trafficking groups of Xate for retaliation against the work of the guards to prevent looting of the listed plant.
As explained by the Tourist Guides, Park ranger recently stumbled on a group of traffickers smuggling Xate in the area and days before the event. The dead guard had managed to seize some horses out of the archaeological site and it is believed that the group of traffickers returned to take revenge.
The archaeological site El Caracol is located 40 kilometers south of Xunantunich and the town of San Ignacio Cayo. The city, which had its heyday in the classic period, was probably the most important political center of the Maya in the present territory of Belize.
The demand for the plant Xate has increased internationally in the last decade in the forested area of Petén and Belize border where more is this plant that has different uses, mainly ornamental. Since the country has regulated the trade of the plant Xate, by the National Council of Protected Areas (Conap), groups of illegal traffickers have proliferated.
Courtesy LIBRE.COM / Guatemala