Honduras: Los Tercereños (The Third Parties), including activities, areas of operations, key members and relationship with other gangs; state response (2016-August 2019) [HND106326.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Los Tercereños

Information on Los Tercereños was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources describe Los Tercereños as a "local" or "small" drug or street gang (UN 27 July 2016, 28; Matthew B. Ridgway Center n.d.a). The UNHCR mentions Los Tercereños in a description of street gangs and criminal bandas (bands) in Honduras in 2016:

A range of other local street gangs and criminal bands are reported to be present in Honduras that do not form part of the larger gang structures. … Other smaller street gangs in different parts of Honduras include Barrio Pobre 16, the Tercereños, the Ponces and the Parqueños. …

Even if the larger gang structures of the Barrio 18 and MS are reported to have partially or wholly taken over or destroyed smaller local rivals during the late 1990s and early-mid 2000s, these local street gangs remain a feature of the gang landscape in Honduras. Indeed, various smaller gangs may be present alongside gangs affiliated to the bigger gang structures in volatile and violent localities, such as the 39 neighbourhoods making up Rivera Hernández in San Pedro Sula, where at least four smaller gangs are reported to hold territories contiguous to those of the Barrio 18 and MS gangs, or the many gangs present in various sectors of La Ceiba. Many such smaller gangs reportedly drift in and out of alliances with each other, and with Barrio 18 and MS gangs, in which some even have their origins. These smaller gangs reportedly rely largely on extortion for revenue. (UN 27 July 2016, 28, italics in original)

1.1 Areas of Operation

Sources indicate that Los Tercereños operate in the city of San Pedro Sula (InSight Crime 9 Dec. 2015; Vice 28 Oct. 2015; Matthew B. Ridgway Center n.d.a). According to a description of Los Tercereños published in the Violent Non-State Actors Database of the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies [1], the gang operated in the Felipe Zelaya neighborhood of San Pedro Sula (Matthew B. Ridgway Center n.d.a). An article in the Honduran newspaper Tiempo Digital, reporting on the arrest of some gang members in 2018, states that they were arrested in [translation] "Colonia Felipe Zelaya, Rivera Hernández sector" (Tiempo Digital 20 Sept. 2018). 2015 sources list Los Tercereños among the gangs present in the Rivera Hernández neighborhood (InSight Crime 9 Dec. 2015; Vice 28 Oct. 2015). In a May 2019 article about gangs in San Pedro Sula, the New York Times provides a map showing the location of different gangs operating in San Pedro Sula, including Los Tercereños (The New York Times 13 May 2019). A copy of the map is attached to this Response.

1.2 Relationship with Other Gangs

Sources indicate that at least five maras (gangs) fight for control of Rivera Hernández or some of its sectors: Mara Salvatrucha (MS, MS-13, Mara 13), Barrio 18 (Mara 18, Pandilla 18, B-18 or 18th Street Gang), Vatos Locos (Crazy Guys), Los Olanchanos (from Olancho) and Los Tercereños (El Diario 28 Jan. 2019; AJS 8 Sept. 2016; El Confidencial 27 June 2016). Sources indicate that the two main gangs dominating the San Pedro Sula territory or the Rivera Hernández are the Mara Salvatrucha and the Barrio 18 (El Diario 28 Jan. 2019; El Confidencial 27 June 2016). Los Tercereños are among the other smaller gangs present in the territory (El Diario 28 Jan. 2019; Le Monde 9 Oct. 2016; AJS 8 Sept. 2016).

According to the Matthew B. Ridgway Center's fact sheet, Los Tercereños work for the Mara 18 gang and against Los Olanchanos (Matthew B. Ridgway Center n.d.a). The same source further states that "Los Tercereños appear to be [a] very small group which could be an offshoot of the Mara 18 drug gang and/or a small group that collaborates with the larger Mara" (Matthew B. Ridgway Center n.d.a). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. A 2017 academic journal article mentions that Los Tercereños "now compete with MS 13" (Farah and Babineau 14 Sept. 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Other sources describe the gang Los Ponces ["a criminal group made up of drop-outs from the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 gang" (AJS 8 Sept. 2016)] as enemies of Los Tercereños (InSight Crime 9 Dec. 2015; AJS 8 Sept. 2016).

1.3 Activities

The Matthew B. Ridgway Center fact sheet indicates that Los Tercereños are engaged in murder and selling drugs (Matthew B. Ridgway Center n.d.a). The 2017 academic journal article indicates that Los Tercereños compete with MS 13 for the "control of drug transport routes" (Farah and Babineau 14 Sept. 2017). In an article about gangs in San Pedro Sula, in which Los Tercereños are mentioned, InSight Crime states that the six gangs operating in that city are "dedicated to drug trafficking, extortion, assassinations, car theft, illegal gun sales, and assaults" (InSight Crime 26 Feb. 2015). The Association for a More Just Society (AJS) [2] similarly states that the gangs operating in Rivera Hernández, including Los Tercereños, "compet[e] openly with actions of contract killings, selling drugs, extortion, theft of vehicles and arms trafficking among other crimes" (AJS 8 Sept. 2016). According to the Tiempo Digital article, the three members of Los Tercereños who were arrested in September 2018 were accused of extortion, a widespread practice among criminal groups in Honduras (Tiempo Digital 20 Sept. 2018). While describing the gangs that operate in Cerrito Lindo, a sector of Rivera Hernández, the authors of an article published by the Spanish newspaper El Diario in January 2019 refer to Los Tercereños as [translation] a "small gang of hit men" (El Diario 28 Jan. 2019).

1.4 Key Members

Information on key members of Los Tercereños could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

A 2018 article in Tiempo Digital provides the names of three alleged members of Los Tercereños who were arrested in San Pedro Sula on 20 September 2018: Willians Enrique Madrid Cantillano, alias "La Chili," 19 years old; Christian Nahún Fuentes, alias "Catete," 18 years old; and alias "Chele," 15 years old (Tiempo Digital 20 Sept. 2018). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The fact sheet on Los Tercereños indicates that the size of the gang is unknown (Matthew B. Ridgway Center n.d.a).

2. Response by Authorities

Information on the state response to Los Tercereños' activities was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. The 2018 Tiempo Digital article reports that three members of Los Tercereños were arrested for extortion by the National Anti-Maras and Gangs Force (Fuerza Nacional Anti Maras y Pandillas, FNAMP), among others, working within the framework of the operations of the National Inter-Institutional Security Force (Fuerza de Seguridad Interinstitucional Nacional, FUSINA) in September 2018 (Tiempo Digital 20 Sept. 2018). Further and corroborating information could not be found among sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. For information on state responses to gang violence in general, see the Honduras: Information Gathering Mission Report, published in February 2018.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] "The Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies at the University of Pittsburgh is dedicated to generating scholarship that educates the next generation of security analysts. Its purpose is to produce original and impartial analysis that informs policymakers who must confront diverse challenges to state and human security" (Matthew B. Ridgway Center n.d.b).

[2] The Association for a More Just Society (AJS) is a Christian civil society organization working in Honduras to "promote peace, justice, and the transformation of society and government of Honduras," specializing in peace and public security (AJS n.d.).

References

Association for a More Just Society (AJS). 8 September 2016. "Two Burials and One Exhumation: the Fall of a Gang in Rivera Hernández." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

Association for a More Just Society (AJS). N.d. "Who We Are." [Accessed 12 Aug. 2019]

El Confidencial. 27 June 2016. Alberto G. Palomo. "Entramos en el barrio más peligroso del país más violento, Honduras." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

El Diario. 28 January 2019. Elsa Cabria, et al. "Ellas quieren ser Mortal: la sumisión de las niñas pandilleras." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

Farah, Douglas and Kathryn Babineau. 14 September 2017. "The Evolution of MS 13 in El Salvador and Honduras." PRISM. Vol. 7, No. 1. Washington: National Defense University. [Accessed 6 Aug. 2019]

InSight Crime. 9 December 2015. Juan José Martínez D'Aubuisson. "Poor 'Hood, Mean 'Hood: The Violent History of Rivera Hernandez, Honduras." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

InSight Crime. 26 February 2015. "Images of Displacement in Honduras' Most Violent City." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies. N.d.a. Sajjan Suman. "Los Tercereños." Violent Non-State Actors Database. [Accessed 30 July 2019]

Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies. N.d.b. "Who We Are." [Accessed 12 Aug. 2019]

Le Monde. 9 October 2016. Rémy Ourdan. "Honduras et Salvador : la gangrène des maras." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

The New York Times. 13 May 2019. Azam Ahmed. "Inside Gang Territory in Honduras: 'Either They Kill Us or We Kill Them'." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

Tiempo Digital. 20 September 2018. "Acorralan y capturan a tres supuestos 'tercereños' en la Rivera Hernández." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

United Nations (UN). 27 July 2016. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from Honduras. [Accessed 30 July 2019]

Vice. 28 October 2015. Bernardo Loyola. "De noche por San Pedro Sula con cámara, micrófono y pistola en mano." [Accessed 30 July 2019]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; ecoi.net; Factiva; Freedom House; Human Rights Watch; International Crisis Group; Interpol; Jane's 360; Transparency International; US – Department of State, Overseas Security Advisory Council.

Attachment

Watkins, Derek. N.d. Map showing gang control in Rivera Hernández, San Pedro Sula, based on data by Times Reporting and the Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa. As reproduced in The New York Times. 13 May 2019. Azam Ahmed. "Inside Gang Territory in Honduras: 'Either They Kill Us or We Kill Them'." [Accessed 1 Aug. 2019]