Violence, poverty reign in Honduran city where caravans form
In the dusty, dimly lit neighborhoods of San Pedro Sula, everyone knows the unwritten rules: There are places you don’t go without permission. If driving, roll down the windows so gang members and their lookouts can see who is inside. It’s safest to stay home after nightfall, leaving the streets to the enforcers and drug dealers who are armed and don’t hesitate to kill.
Honduras’ second biggest city is where caravan after caravan of migrants have formed in recent months to head north to Mexico and on toward the United States, fleeing violence, poverty, corruption and chaos. All of those are palpable on the city’s sweltering streets, a reminder of why thousands continue to flee despite the dangers and uncertain prospects for being able to stay even if they make it to the U.S.
The northern district of San Pedro Sula where Associated Press journalists accompanied police on a recent night is home to nearly 230,000 people with just 50 officers to patrol its 189 neighborhoods, including the most dangerous: Planeta, Lomas del Carmen and La Rivera Hernandez. Deputy police inspector Wilmer López says two drug labs were busted in the area in the last year. He has arrested gang members as young as 9.