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A chilling phone call highlights some of the techniques that criminals in Honduras use to extort their victims, underscoring the ways in which extortion gangs take advantage of the country’s precarious security situation to instill fear.

In the recording of an extortion call obtained by the Honduran media, a man who identifies himself as “Mafia,” the leader of a gang with the same name, demands that the owners of a bus company pay him around $4,760 and a weekly “war tax.”

“If not,” the criminal states, “we are going to have it out with the owners of the buses and we’re going to burn them alive.”

During the call, “Mafia” tells the victim to meet him the following day at 11 a.m. and warns him not to contact the police or turn off his cellphone. He then describes threats the gang carried out in two of Tegucigalpa’s most violent neighborhoods, La Torre and Flor de Campo.

“We charged [another bus company] rent in Flor de Campo and we killed one of them because they didn’t believe us at the beginning. So if you don’t believe us, listen to me closely, because later I’m going to make you listen…if you don’t believe us the same thing is going to happen to you as happened in La Torre and Flor de Campo with me, get it?”

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