Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras mayor arrested on suspicion of directing a group of assassins

Mayor Delvin Salgado, flanked by police, being arrested Image copyright Police Handout
Image caption Delvin Salgado said he had nothing to do with the accusations against him

The mayor of a small town in Honduras has been arrested on suspicion of directing a group of assassins.

He is one of at least 35 mayors or deputy mayors investigated for links with organised crime in since 2015, the authorities say.

Delvin Salgado, the mayor of El Negrito in the north of the country, was detained as part of a countrywide police operation.

He said he had "nothing to do with" the accusations.

Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, with 60 for every 100,000 inhabitants annually.

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Prosecutors said Mr Salgado was detained for "assassination and illicit association".

He is accused of committing two murders between 2013 and 2014 as well as maintaining links with local criminal groups.

There were 115 other raids across the country on the same day, with an unspecified number of arrests on suspicion of robbery, cocaine trafficking, marijuana trafficking, arms smuggling, human trafficking, land stealing and being part of assassination groups.

Local media reported that when Mr Salgado was arrested he said: "I swear on my mother and father, who just passed away, that I have nothing to do with this."

The government has attempted a crackdown on criminality in Honduran society. In April this year it started a purge of the police, and 300 high-up police officials have so far been sacked for their part in various crimes. As part of the purge, about 10,000 officers are being investigated.

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