Relief News

Honduras Travel Warning

Description

March 02, 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 June 2014 and includes additional information on crime and security in Honduras, as well as updated contact information.

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 June 2014 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. 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. The police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime or may not respond at all. Members of the Honduran National Police have been arrested, tried, and convicted for criminal activities. Many more are under investigation. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras. The Honduran government is still in the early stages of substantial reforms to its criminal justice institutions.

Honduras has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for the last five years. The U.S. Embassy has recorded more than 100 murders of U.S. citizens since 2002. Many cases over the last 14 years are still awaiting trial. The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved. In 2014, there were ten murders of U.S. citizens reported to the U.S. Embassy with seven of the ten resulting in arrests or prosecutions.

U.S. citizens are victims of crime at levels similar to those of the local population, and they do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality. The Government of Honduras has special police forces 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 increased private and police security. Most resort areas and tourist destinations have lower levels of crime and violence than other areas of the country; however, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur, and rates are still high by international standards.

Tourists traveling with group tours also report fewer criminal incidents. However, the San Pedro Sula area has seen armed robberies against tourist vans, minibuses, and cars traveling from the airport to area hotels, and there have also been armed robberies along the road to Copan. Armed men have forced vehicles transporting tourists off the road and robbed the victims, occasionally assaulting the driver or passengers. In past years, several U.S. citizens have been murdered in San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba shortly after arriving in the country. Assaults in these areas may be based on tips from sources at airport arrival areas, so visitors are strongly urged to exercise caution in discussing travel plans in public. Exercise particular caution walking on isolated beaches, especially at night. Several U.S. citizens have reported being robbed while walking on isolated beaches.

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.

Transnational criminal organizations also 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.

Roatan & Bay Islands

Roatan and the Bay Islands are geographically separated from Honduras and 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. However, as on the mainland, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur, and 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 also 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. Additionally, 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. You should also avoid wearing jewelry and 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, 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 the doors locked and windows up to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested downtown streets.

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

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, 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 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.

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