TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — The pilot of a suspected drug flight killed in an anti-narcotics operation in Honduras earlier this month was shot dead by two U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents after he refused to surrender, an agency spokeswoman said Sunday.
At the time, Honduran police said the twin-engine plane arriving from Colombia with a load of cocaine crashed while being chased by government aircraft. One pilot died in the July 3 incident and second was badly injured. Officials did not say how the death took place.
DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden on Sunday said that when police arrived at the crash scene in eastern Honduras they found the plane's two pilots. The injured pilot was arrested and the second was shot by the DEA agents after he ignored orders to surrender and made a threatening gesture.
"Both suspects were given first aid and transported via helicopter to a secure location," Dearden told The Associated Press. "The pilot who resisted arrest died of his injuries."
She called the operation, which involved Honduran police and embedded DEA advisers, a success that resulted in the seizure of 900 kilograms (almost a ton) of cocaine.
It was the second time a DEA agent has killed someone in Central America since the agency began deploying specially trained agents several years ago to accompany local law enforcement personnel on all types of drug raids throughout the region.
U.S. officials say that in late June an agent shot a suspected drug trafficker as he reached for his gun in a holster during a raid in a remote northern part of Honduras. That operation resulted in the seizure of 792 pounds (360 kilograms) of cocaine, the officials said.
A similar raid on May 11 killed four people, whom locals claimed were innocent civilians traveling a river in Honduras at night. Honduran police said the victims were in a boat that fired on authorities. The DEA said none of its agents fired their guns in that incident.