Relief News

Honduras Travel Warning

Description

October 30, 2015
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high, although it has declined in the past two years.This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated March 2015 and includes additional information on crime and security in Honduras.

Crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country. The Government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly respond to, investigate, and prosecute cases. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras.

Since 2010, Honduras has had one of the highest murder rates in the world, and the U.S. Embassy has recorded 42 murders of U.S. citizens during the same time period, with 10 recorded since January 2014. However, official statistics from the Honduran Observatory on National Violence show Honduras' homicide rate has decreased to 66 per 100,000 in 2014, down from its peak of 86.5 per 100,000 in 2011, and mid-year estimates in July 2015 predict a lower rate for 2015.

U.S. citizens are victims of crime at levels similar to those of the local population and do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality. The Government of Honduras added additional police in areas frequented by tourists, such as the Copan Mayan ruins and Roatan. The Honduran Government is implementing similar programs for other locations, including La Ceiba and Trujillo, and major hotels and other tourist installations have private and police security.

Tourists traveling with group tours report fewer criminal incidents. Honduran law enforcement reports frequent highway assaults and carjackings, including remote areas of Choluteca, Olancho, Colon and Copan Departments. Reporting indicates that these assaults are frequently executed by criminals posing as Honduran law enforcement. This criminal activity occurs frequently enough to present security challenges for anyone traveling in remote areas.

Kidnappings and extortion are common in Honduras. Since January 2012, four cases of kidnapped U.S. citizens were reported to the U.S. Embassy and the kidnapping victims were all subsequently released after paying ransoms. As families of kidnapping victims often pay ransoms without reporting these crimes to police out of fear of retribution, kidnapping figures may be underreported.

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

Sexual assault is a concern in Honduras. Most Honduran local police and medical staff do not have the capacity to properly handle evidence collection and medical care of sexual assault cases.

Roatan & Bay Islands

Roatan and the Bay Islands experience lower crime rates than the Honduras mainland. The national government of Honduras, Roatan authorities, and businesses took measures in 2014 to improve tourism security. As on the mainland, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur, and rates are still high by international standards. You should exercise caution, especially at night. If staying at a hotel resort, book tours and sightseeing through the resort or reputable tour companies. Coxen Hole on the island of Roatan should be avoided after dark.

If you are traveling on a cruise ship, you should take safety precautions, avoid unfamiliar areas, and take care to book only with reputable tour companies during your stopover in Honduras. Cruise lines and port agencies work with approved tour companies to offer packages. The port agencies at Mahogany Bay and Towne Center have worked to improve taxi service to and from the ports. The vast majority of cruise line passengers in Honduras experience no problems, but incidents of armed robbery and carjacking have been reported.

Precautions While in Honduras

Be vigilant of your surroundings at all times and in all locations, especially when entering or exiting your home/hotel, car, garage, school, and workplace. Whenever possible, travel in groups of two or more. Avoid wearing jewelry, carrying large sums of money, or displaying cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables. Avoid walking at night in most areas of Honduras or walking alone on beaches, in historic ruins, and on trails. Several U.S. citizens have reported being robbed while walking on isolated beaches. Motorists should avoid traveling between cities at night and always drive with the doors locked and windows up to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested downtown streets. Arriving U.S. citizens are strongly urged to exercise caution in discussing travel plans in public since criminals may conduct crimes based on tips from sources at airport arrival areas.

The location and timing of criminal activity is unpredictable in Honduras. All travelers should exercise caution when traveling anywhere in the country; however, certain areas of the country demonstrate higher levels of criminal activity than others. Most of Honduras' major cities (Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and others), as well as several Honduran "departments" (a geographic designation similar to U.S. states) have homicide rates higher than the national average for 2014, including:

DEPARTMENT CAPITAL

Atlántida La Ceiba
Colón Trujillo
Cortés San Pedro Sula
Francisco Morazan Tegucigalpa
Yoro Yoro

Travelers to the department of Gracias a Dios should note that it is a remote location where narcotics trafficking is frequent, infrastructure is weak, government services are limited, and police or military presence is scarce. The U.S. Embassy has restricted U.S. government personnel travel to Gracias a Dios due to credible threat information against U.S citizens by criminal and drug trafficking organizations. U.S. citizens traveling to Gracias a Dios should consider postponing their travel. Those who choose to travel or currently reside in Gracias a Dios should remain alert to local conditions and for signs of danger, be extra cautious, maintain a high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance personal security.

Getting Informed before Traveling

For more detailed information regarding personal security, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for Honduras. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site for the latest Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts.

The Embassy strongly encourages U.S. citizens living or traveling in Honduras to sign up for the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to obtain updated information on travel and security within Honduras. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. Stay up to date by bookmarking the Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site, which contains Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution.

Contact Information

If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime in Honduras, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. If you are in the two major cities of Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula, you can reach the local police by dialing 911; other smaller cities or rural areas have their own local police assistance numbers.

The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenida La Paz in Tegucigalpa and can be reached at:

Telephone: (504) 2236-9320/2238-5114
Fax: (504) 2236-9037
After Hours: (504) 2236-8497
Website: http://honduras.usembassy.gov

The Embassy's American Citizens Services Unit is open to walk-in services Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 11:30 am and can be reached directly at:

Telephone: (504) 2238-5114 ext. 4400
After Hours: (504) 2238-5114/2236-9320 ext.4100
Fax: (504) 2238-4357
Email: usahonduras@state.gov
Facebook: www.facebook.com/acstegucigalpa

The U.S. Consular Agency in San Pedro Sula is located on the eleventh floor of the Banco Atlantida building (across from Central Park). The agency is open to walk-in services on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:00 to 4:00 pm and can be reached at telephone: (504) 2558-1580.

Web Link