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Forensic teams investigate the shooting scene in El Progreso, Honduras Forensic teams investigate the shooting scene in El Progreso, Honduras  (ANSA)

Honduras MS-13 gang attacks courtroom to free leader

Heavily-armed gunmen storm a courtroom in Honduras to free a top leader in the violent MS-13 gang, killing 4 police officers in the process.

By James Blears

Handcuffed MS-13 - or Mara Salvatrucha - gang leader Alexander Mendoza, nicknamed "Porky", was escorted into a court hearing in the Honduran town of El Progresso, which is near to the country's second city of San Pedro Sula.

His guards were attacked by gunmen disguised in police and military uniforms, who dropped the subterfuge, opening fire.

The fierce firefight, which erupted on the second floor of the building, developed into a running gun battle. 

CCTV footage shows the accused minus handcuffs, armed with a pistol and a machine gun, fleeing to waiting vehicles outside with his men. They remain on the run.

Four people died in the mayhem.

Mendoza was arrested, and in 2018 he was jailed for 20 years, convicted of gang membership and money laundering. Yet he was also facing murder charges, and this court appearance would have furthered those cases.

Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez has ordered an investigation, offering a sizeable reward. 

Deputy Security Minister Luis Suazo has gone on the record vowing to bring Mendoza and his accomplices to justice. 

14 February 2020, 16:49