Relief News

Honduras Travel Warning

Description

December 24, 2013
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated June 17, 2013, and includes additional information on crime and security in Honduras, as well as updated contact information.

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens visit Honduras each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work without incident. However, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country, and the Government of Honduras lacks the resources to address these issues. Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. Various institutions and government agencies are still analyzing statistics for 2013. The National Violence Observatory, an academic research institution based out of Honduras' National Public University, reports that the murder rate was slightly above 81 murders per 100,000 people for January through November.

Crime and Security Threats

U.S. citizens do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality, and expatriates are victims of crime at levels similar to those of the local population. Most resort areas and tourist destinations have lower levels of crime and violence than other areas of the country, though still high by international standards. In 2012, the Government of Honduras increased police presence and established special police forces in areas frequented by tourists, such as the Copan Mayan ruins and Roatan. Tourists traveling with group tours also report fewer criminal incidents.

The Honduran Government is evaluating similar options for other locations, and major hotels, and other tourist installations have increased private and police security. Some businesses report that extra security costs account for up to 15 percent of their total expenses.

The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved; of the 50 murders committed against U.S. citizens since 2008, police have only solved two. Members of the Honduran National Police are known to engage in criminal activity, including murder and car theft. The Government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases, and police often lack vehicles or fuel to respond to calls for assistance. In practice, this means police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime, or may not respond at all. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras. The Honduran government is in the early stages of substantial reforms to its criminal justice institutions.

Transnational criminal organizations also conduct narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout the country, using 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, commit crimes such as murder, kidnapping, extortion, carjacking, armed robbery, rape, and other aggravated assaults.

Kidnappings and disappearances are an ongoing concern throughout the country as well. Kidnapping affects both the local and expatriate communities, with victims sometimes paying large ransoms for the prospect of release. Kidnapping is believed to be underreported. Since January 1, 2012, four cases of kidnapped U.S. citizens were reported to the U.S. Embassy. The kidnapping victims were all subsequently released.

Precautions While in Honduras

U.S. citizens should be vigilant of their surroundings at all times and in all locations, especially when entering or exiting their homes, hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces. Whenever possible, U.S. citizens should travel in groups of two or more. It is also advisable to avoid wearing jewelry and carrying large sums of money or displaying cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables. U.S. citizens should avoid walking at night in most areas of Honduras or walking alone on beaches, historic ruins, and trails. Incidents of crime along roads, including carjacking and kidnapping, are also 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 in Honduras. The U.S. Embassy recommends that all travelers 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 2013 thus far, including:

DEPARTMENT CAPITAL
Atlántida La Ceiba
Colón Trujillo
Cortés San Pedro Sula
Yoro Yoro

There are no reliable statistics for the department of Gracias a Dios; however, travelers to the area should note that it is a remote location where narcotics trafficking is frequent, and where infrastructure is weak, government services are limited, and police or military presence is scarce.

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, where the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.

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: honduras.usembassy.gov

The Embassy's American Citizen 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
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.

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