May 28 (Bloomberg) -- Leaders of Honduran street gangs Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 signed a “zero crimes, zero violence” truce to reduce violence in the Central American nation.
A meeting between gang members was held at the Sampedrano prison in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, which had the world’s highest homicide rate last year with 169 murders per 100,000 residents, according to Mexico-based think tank Citizen Council for Public Security, Justice and Peace.
Facilitated by Bishop Romulo Emiliani and Adam Blackwell, secretary for multidimensional security at the Organization of American States, leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha, known as MS-13, and Barrio 18 spoke to a group of reporters and pledged to reduce violence between the gangs, according to audio provided by Honduran radio HRN.
Emiliani, who is the assistant bishop of the San Pedro Sula archdiocese, said he began meeting with gang members months ago in hopes of signing an accord similar to that of a gang truce in El Salvador last year. Since the pact between the El Salvadorian branches of MS-13 and Barrio 18 in March 2012, homicides have fallen by more than 48 percent, according to the public security ministry.
“All this is a long, exhausting process of much patience and many frustrations,” Emiliani said, according to the audio. The Honduran government will support Emiliani and the truce “by all means necessary,” Honduran President Porfirio Lobo said in a statement released last night.
Honduras has one of the world’s highest homicide rates, with 86 out of every 100,000 citizens suffering violent deaths in 2012, according to the Violence Observatory at Honduras’s National Autonomous University. About 79 percent of cocaine smuggling flights to the U.S. from South America first land in Honduras, according to a State Department report last year.
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