[News] Killing in the Name of the War on Drugs - Evidence the DEA Attempted to Alter Testimony on Massacre in Honduras

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 29 12:49:40 EST 2015


January 29, 2015


*Killing in the Name of the War on Drugs*


  Evidence the DEA Attempted to Alter Testimony on Massacre in Honduras

by KAREN SPRING

Clara Wood survived a shooting carried out during a joint Honduras-U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) drug interdiction operation in the 
Moskitia region in eastern Honduras on May 11, 2012. Her 14-year old 
son, Hasked Brooks Wood, was killed 
<http://www.google.hn/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cepr.net%2Fdocuments%2Fpublications%2Fhonduras-2012-08.pdf&ei=pjqHVJaBAYi2yQSSmIHoCA&usg=AFQjCNHbQpCj9S6phYt4cOUB0k_zX7iAZQ&sig2=boq65qX2qeVZ58FzWQqKRA> 
during shooting.

To date, no Honduran or U.S. agents have been held accountable 
<http://www.google.hn/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCgQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cepr.net%2Fdocuments%2Fpublications%2Fhonduras-ahuas-2013-04.pdf&ei=pjqHVJaBAYi2yQSSmIHoCA&usg=AFQjCNFLqHPl6xUFYnLHepgMp8Pb6wrZtg&sig2=3sJmu4EJHLwTjiwt76mYNQ&bvm=bv.81449611,d.aWw> 
for the death of four Miskitu indigenous people who were assassinated 
and three who were gravely injured during the attack Between February 
and March 2013, three Honduran agents were acquitted 
<http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?view=article&catid=37%3Amem-y-imp&id=3164%3Acofadeh-apela-resolucion-emitida-por-juzgado-de-primera-instancia-en-el-caso-ahuas&tmpl=component&print=1&page=&option=com_content&Itemid=150> 
for their involvement in the May 2012 incident. Honduran authorities say 
that the U.S. Embassy refuses 
<http://truth-out.org/news/item/17759-us-embassy-dea-obstructing-investigation-into-drug-war-killings-in-honduras> 
to hand over the names of the U.S. agents involved in the massacre, thus 
obstructing investigation of the case.

*New Developments*

Beginning in mid-2013, Clara Wood and a family member of a woman killed 
during the operation began receiving phone calls from a Honduran man 
that identified himself as ‘Eddie’. Eddie offered to help them, 
including insisting that they drop their current legal representation 
and allow him to find them – the survivors and family members – a 
‘better’ lawyer to take on their case. He told Clara he had friends in 
the U.S. Embassy that could help her. He suggested the other survivor, 
who he was also trying to convince to change legal representation, 
travel to San Pedro Sula with a woman rumored in Ahuas to traffic sex 
workers.

On two occasions in February 2014, Mrs. Wood traveled with Eddie to 
Tegucigalpa for questioning conducted by individuals that she was told 
were Americans and/or worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration. On 
the first trip, two U.S. men attempted to convince Mrs. Wood to alter 
her testimony regarding the series of events that led up to the May 2012 
massacre.

During questioning, the two Americans – one identified as ‘Mr. Andres’ – 
insisted that two men in the passenger boat in which Wood was traveling 
opened fired at the U.S. State Department helicopter, thus justifying 
the helicopter shooting and killing four innocent civilians.

On this trip, Eddie told Wood that she would receive 100,000 Lempiras 
[$5,000 USD] if she said that two men in the passenger boat fired first 
at the helicopter. Later that day, after proposing she return to 
Tegucigalpa to speak with colleagues of his coming from Washington, Mr. 
Andres asked Wood to bring her bank account number, apparently 
confirming Eddie’s offer.

On the second trip, as Eddie escorted her to the meeting, he stopped at 
a pharmacy and asked for a pill to calm nerves, which he gave to Clara 
and she took. She was then taken to a building that she understood to be 
the U.S. Embassy and hooked up to a polygraph machine.

She recounts that an American man who identified himself as working with 
the DEA began administering the polygraph test and soon asked her if she 
had taken any kind of medication. He then left the room and she heard 
him speaking in the hall with Mr. Andres who came in, asked her who had 
given her a pill, and said they would no longer administer the test 
because she did not want to tell the truth. Throughout both trips, Wood 
refused to alter her testimony and stood by her original account 
<http://www.google.hn/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cepr.net%2Fdocuments%2Fpublications%2Fhonduras-2012-08.pdf&ei=ozyHVNuXB82fyASB2YG4Bw&usg=AFQjCNHbQpCj9S6phYt4cOUB0k_zX7iAZQ&sig2=R3cfMvOladgU_KS5eNJvYw&bvm=bv.81449611,d.aWw> 
of the events of the 2012 massacre.

It is possible that the February 2014 contact with Clara Wood is linked 
to an internal investigation being conducted by the U.S. Department of 
Justice and the State Department or an internal investigation that the 
DEA announced it was conducting in May 2012. When a U.S. human rights 
observation delegation questioned the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa about 
contact with Mrs. Wood in November 2014, they were told that the Embassy 
had limited knowledge of the contact, but that they had been contacted 
first by someone claiming to have information about the May 2012 incident.

/The following is Wood’s testimony of her initial contact with Eddie, 
her two trips to Tegucigalpa and the questioning she endured without 
legal representation:/

*‘Eddie’ Makes Contact with Massacre Survivor, Clara Wood.*

Eddie first contacted Clara Wood in December of 2013. “He told me he is 
from San Pedro Sula, the first time he called me from San Pedro and he 
told me that he saw me on the internet and he pitied me because I’m 
poor. He said that he knows people who help poor people . . . He was 
going to take me to those people who can help me.”

Eddie told Clara that he had gotten her phone number from Clara’s cousin 
who lives in Puerto Lempira, Gracias a Dios. Repeatedly over the next 
few months, Eddie called Clara, asking how she was doing. During these 
conversations, he made references to the killing of her son Hasked 
Brooks Wood in the DEA-Honduran government massacre in Ahuas on May 11, 
2012.

“He always called me on my cell phone, asking how I’m doing, sometimes 
sending me phone credit to my phone. [We spoke] in the months of 
December [2013], January, and February.”

In February 2014, Eddie phoned Clara and invited her to come to 
Tegucigalpa. He told her that he had people in Tegucigalpa who would 
help her because of the loss of her son.

“[Eddie] called me one day before he went to Roatan. The day he arrived, 
he called me, ‘Listen, where are you? I’m in Roatan’ he told me.”

The next day, Eddie went to Wood’s house. Wood describes him as “dark- 
skinned, I don’t know how old – he was heavy set, muscular, not young, 
he’s a grown man. He spoke Spanish and English.”

Eddie picked Mrs. Wood up at her house, and the two of them went by 
ferry to the mainland and then by public bus to Tegucigalpa. Upon 
arriving in Tegucigalpa, Eddie took Clara to the Hotel Guanacaste. For 
the rest of the day, Clara stayed in her room. Eddie reserved a room for 
himself adjacent to Clara’s room.

*Questioning and Interrogation in ‘US Embassy’ in Tegucigalpa*

Early the following morning, Eddie took Clara by taxi to a building that 
Clara believed to be the U.S. Embassy “I don’t remember the color of the 
house, it had flowers outside and an entrance.It’s a low-rise building, 
one level.”

Outside what Clara was told was a U.S. Embassy building, stood a 
Honduran guard and “the guard inside [the building] was American – I saw 
his [skin] color, his hat and his clothes were khakis. He spoke Spanish 
but because of his clothes, I knew he was American.”

Once inside the building, she was asked for her identification. A man 
named Mr. Andres met Wood and Eddie at the door. “Mr. Andres said ‘Hi 
Eddie.’ They hugged.”

Wood describes Mr. Andres as “an older man . . . he had the physical 
build of an American and he told me he was American.” Mr. Andres also 
spoke Spanish.

Mr. Andres led Wood into a room He said, “‘Let’s go inside’ and we left 
Eddie outside with the guard [at the entrance]. He [Eddie] did not go 
into the room with me. Don Andres and another man, yes”

Mr. Andres and a “tall” American man took Wood into a “small room with 
no windows.” They began asking her questions about the sequence of 
events of the incident that took place May 11, 2012 in Ahuas when she 
was in a boat that was fired on by helicopters as part of a joint 
DEA-Honduran drug interdiction operation.

Wood reiterated her entire testimony, including when the boat was fired 
on, and her arrest upon getting to the shore of the Patuca River. She 
said that she cried as she described how she found her son Hasked’s dead 
body. The two men got her a glass of water. Wood says at this point she 
was not scared.

“One [man] was standing behind me, the other was asking me things. The 
older [tall] American man told me, ‘I’m sorry, that was an accident, it 
was not our intention to kill anyone.’”

Both men questioned Wood about what had happened that night, 
specifically whether any passengers on the boat had guns.

“Mr. Andres asked me to tell the truth–that Mr. Melanio and Emerson [the 
pilot and his assistant on the boat the night of May 11, 2012] provoked 
the helicopter [to fire]. And I told him ‘no’, I told him no, I did not 
see that’, but he told me that Emerson was a military soldier, that he 
had a gun under his shirt and that people say that Emerson walked around 
with a shotgun all the time, and that he had it [that night], but I told 
him that it was night time, I didn’t see anything because the boat left 
at 7 [at night] and I didn’t see anything.”

“I told him that I could not lie, because I saw shots fired, but from 
the helicopter. I heard shots, but I did not know where they came from, 
I heard four shots that came from above – that’s what I told them.” She 
said that it was impossible for Melanio to fire a gun because he would 
have lost control of the boat.

During the questioning, Clara reports that Mr. Andres asked her for a 
bank account number. She responded that she did not have one.

Mr. Andres also asked Clara about Eddie. “He asked me if Eddie gave me 
anything. I said that he had not given me anything [money]. He gave me 
food, drink, he brings me from the hotel. He has not given me anything, 
I told them”

Mr. Andres said that he gave Eddie $500 dollars to give to Wood and then 
wrote a Honduran phone number down on a piece of paper. Mr. Andres then 
gave Wood the piece of paper, telling her to call him if she needed 
anything.

“I gave $500 to Eddie for the expenses. Did he give it to you?’” Asked 
Mr. Andres. “’He never gave me anything’ I said, ‘I haven’t received 
anything in my hand’ I told them.”

When the questioning was over, Wood was taken back to the hotel. Upon 
arriving, Eddie asked her for the piece of paper that Mr. Andres had 
given her. She gave it to him and he did not give it back to her. Back 
at the hotel, Eddie told Wood that they would deposit 100,000 Lps 
[$5000] in her account if she “told the truth.”

“How much are you going to give me when they give you the money?’ Eddie 
asked Clara. ‘I don’t know,’ Clara told him. “You’ll give me 70,000 … 
how much will you give me?’ said Eddie. ‘They’re going to give it to 
you,” Eddie told Clara.

“No, I don’t think they will give me anything, I said.”

The following morning, Wood, accompanied by Eddie, traveled back to the 
island of Roatan. Eddie went with Wood to Siguatepeque where he got off 
the bus, while Wood continued on to Roatan

*Lie Detector Test and Clara’s Second Trip to Tegucigalpa with Eddie*

Wood relates, “In the same month of February, two weeks later, he 
brought me back again. Eddie went to Roatan, Eddie went to my house to 
take me [to Tegucigalpa].”

Upon arriving, she was told that she would wait for a man from the DEA 
who was coming from the United States. She waited for two days in 
Tegucigalpa in the hotel. Eddie brought her food and she did not leave 
the hotel much. When Clara and Eddie did leave the hotel, Eddie gave 
Clara sunglasses to put on so that people would not recognize her.

“I was waiting for two days in the hotel in the Guanacaste 
[neighborhood] waiting with him [Eddie] and they came specifically to 
put a polygraph on my body. They came for that.”

During the time they waited in the hotel, Eddie made reference to money 
that Clara would receive if she “told the truth.” Clara was told that 
“They are going to give you money if you tell the truth. ‘I will tell 
the truth’, I told him, I’m going to speak about the same thing that I 
saw, I cannot say lies’ I told him. ‘No, you were going to say that 
Melanio and Emerson fired,’ he told me. ‘But I cannot lie’ I told him.

Eddie told Wood that he received a call asking him to make sure that 
Wood slept well, ate well, and did not take any medications before going 
to what Wood believes was the U.S. Embassy again.

On the third day, early in the morning Eddie took Wood again by taxi to 
the same house that she assumed to be the U.S. Embassy. On their way to 
the Embassy, they stopped at a pharmacy.

“Eddie came with me and close to the Embassy, he bought a pill to calm 
nerves.” Eddie told Wood that the pill would help her with her nerves. 
She took the pill even though she had not asked for it nor did she feel 
like she needed it.

Eddie and Wood walked from the pharmacy to the building. Wood was taken 
inside and led into a room alone with a man who told her he had come 
from the United States specifically to give her the polygraph test and 
worked with the DEA. He began asking Clara questions about the series of 
events that occurred on May 11, 2012. Shortly after, he asked Clara if 
she had taken any medication.

“Then he asked me what I had taken. He [then] left the room and went 
outside where they were waiting. Mr. Andres was outside with the other 
American . . . and then Mr. Andres came into the room. Mr. Andres said – 
‘You don’t want to tell the truth on the machine’. Eddie told me that 
you were going to speak the truth but you don’t want to speak’. The man 
from the DEA [giving the lie detector test] asked me what pill I had 
taken. I told him that Eddie had bought me a pill. ‘But I told him not 
to give you anything,’ he said, that he told Eddie to make sure I ate 
dinner, and went to bed early and to not take anything. I don’t know,’ I 
told him, he stopped at a pharmacy and bought a pill. He asked me what 
pill I had taken, a pill for nerves?’ I said ‘Yes, he bought it for me”

Upset and crying Clara was taken off the lie detector test. Eddie then 
took Clara back to the hotel telling her that “for a little thing, we 
lost everything.”

Eddie gave her food for dinner, but she did not eat it. She went to her 
room. The following morning, Clara traveled back to Roatan by herself. 
Eddie gave her 1,200 Lempiras [60 USD] for her travel costs, but it was 
not enough for her to get back to Roatan.

* * *

Mrs. Wood’s testimony was taken over a series of interviews – in person 
and by phone – from July to December 2014. The purpose of the contact 
and polygraph test administered to Mrs. Wood is unknown, however human 
rights organizations that are accompanying Mrs. Wood and other survivors 
of the Ahuas incident are concerned for her safety. The manner in which 
Mrs. Wood was contacted is alarming, as is the form in which she was 
questioned by individuals associated with the DEA, without any legal 
representative, in an attempt to alter her testimony of the incident.

The survivors and family members continue to be hopeful in seeking 
justice for the murder and injury of their loved ones despite the 
impunity rampant in the Honduran justice system, the failure of an 
adequate, complete, and public U.S. investigation into the incident, and 
the unwillingness of the U.S. Embassy to provide the names of the agents 
involved.

This May will mark the third year anniversary of the Drug War massacre 
in Ahuas, and the complete impunity in which U.S. and Honduran forces 
militarize, injury, and kill in the name of the ‘War on Drugs’.

/*Karen Spring* is a member of Rights Action based in Honduras and a 
contributor to the Americas Program <http://www.cipamericas.org>. /

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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