The gang says the drug is its biggest seller in Honduras. It’s enhanced with unknown chemicals.
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – In a drug house in the heart of a slum controlled by the MS-13 street gang in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a gang member saunters in and dumps his product on the table.
On one side is cocaine, each portion twisted into wraps of parchment paper. On the other lie several dozen impeccable plastic baggies of the gang’s newest cash-cow: a powerful strain of chemically-altered marijuana known as Krispy, or Tiburón (which means “shark” in English).
It’s unclear what chemicals or substances have made the new drug so addictive, but the gang has been making a killing off it.
“We’ve sold a lot,” said “El Pedro”, a gang member who met with VICE World News in the Chamelecón neighborhood. His gaze was misty after smoking the drug all afternoon. “There’s a lot of addicts to Tiburón now. It’s almost as addictive as cocaine… Everyone from the youngest kids to really old people consume it now.”
MS-13, a gang whose violent crimes United States President Donald Trump has frequently referenced to justify harsh immigration policies, was born four decades ago on the streets of California, formed by refugees from the El Salvadoran civil war. In the early 1990s, the gang metastasized after U.S. deportation policies dumped them en masse into Central America, where the burgeoning drug trade and easy availability of military grade weapons created a fertile environment for criminal groups.
They’ve since become major hawkers of drugs on the streets of Honduras, itself one of the main transit hubs for illegal drugs headed to the United States. MS-13 began selling Krispy (Tiburón is one kind of Krispy, and the strongest), which goes for twice, sometimes three times the price of normal weed, just before the COVID-19 lockdown began in Honduras, according to observers interviewed by VICE World News.
“Every day, we make around 8,000 to 10,000 lempiras ($328 – 409),” another gang member called “El Ardilla” (which means Squirrel in English) told VICE World News. He picked up a packet of Tiburón between his fingers. “Now this costs 100 lempiras. Before, it only cost 30 or so. The demand was less. Now it’s 100, and we’re making up to 10,000 a day. It’s our best-selling drug,” he said.
As they talk, they play FIFA on a Playstation and get high off joints of Tiburón, smoking with measured inhalations, out through their mouths and back in through their noses.
Street gangs such as MS-13 and Barrio 18 started taking control of drug street sales in Honduras in 2015, according to media reports. That year, there was a spike in violence as the gangs replaced independent distributors – street dealers without direct connections to the gangs – and then fought one another for larger slices of territory. MS-13 now claims to exert a near-total monopoly over Tiburón, which they say their main rivals, Barrio 18, have been unable to break into.
Published: December 10, 2020
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