Murder in Roatan: A Peaceful, Tranquil Paradise?

Roatan Honduras came onto the radar of Cruise Law News in January of this year when a U.S. family who took a Carnival cruise to the island was robbed at gun point while driving in a rental car. The bandito shot the car up, terrifying the three children in the car as well as their parents, who had no idea that they had taken the kids to such a violent place for a family vacation. 

The mother subsequently left us a message saying:

"My Husband, 8, 14, 15 year old daughters and I were shot at, robbed and almost killed after returning Roatan Honduras Crimefrom one of the Roatan Beaches. I find it hard to believe that cruise lines would be wanting to increase tourism to Honduras. People innocently go there to enjoy it's beauty unaware of the danger lurking. My heart goes out to the family of the Norwegian cruise line crew member that was just killed there in broad daylight."

We subsequently reported about several other tourists robbed or assaulted at gun point this year. We were also the first in the U.S. to report on the murder of a NCL crew member in Coxen Hole.

What struck me most about Roatan when I began speaking to local residents and people who fled the island was not just the crime and sense of lawlessness. I was surprised by the extraordinary efforts of the expatriate U.S. citizens who live in Roatan to create the false and misleading impression that the place was a safe, tropical paradise.

Today in reading the local Insular Teledifusora Facebook page, I see that a local man identified as Rodrigo Mendoza Nelson was shot multiple times. His body was dumped along a road from Coxen Hole to Sandy Bay near an entrance to a place called "Mud Hole" late last night.

The images of the lifeless body on the Teledifusora Insular page are graphic.

Roatan Honduras Crime The web page also shows several crude images of men who were quickly arrested for the murder. 

A week ago I wrote about another murder of a local man who was bludgeoned to death near the  Balfate colony area.

None of these images or stories will be seen by tourists to Roatan.

Nor will the expatriate citizens running the tour or dive shops, or the restaurants or bars, or the resorts or realty companies mention these incidents to cruise ship passengers. 


Image Credit: Teledifusora Insular

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Comments (11) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Rose - June 4, 2014 3:10 PM

Is not a secret that Honduras is a violent country, but the Bay Island is still a safe place to live and visit. Is unfortunate what happened to you and your family, but that doesn't mean that the Bay Isla is not an advisable place to visit. Last year a frien was on a family trip to Disney World and they were in a gas station, wen a man walk in with a gun and that doesn't mean we will advice people not to visit the USA

Michele - June 4, 2014 3:58 PM

Interesting stats you're choosing to post about Roatan. I live here and am NOT afraid for my safety. You mention that the expatriate community downplays the crime issue and where are your stats about crime regarding them? The truth of the matter is ANYWHERE you go in the world there is crime, except perhaps, Iceland. The crime that we're witnessing here on Roatan is mostly what others would consider, drug related, revenge related or motivated as well as "Indian on Indian". Which is why the deaths of the man by mud hole or by la colonia belfate were featured but aren't causing a stir.
They have nothing to do with the general public. My safety is not jeopardized by the death of either of those men and neither is anyone else's; unless they were associated with them in whatever business or crime they were previously involved in.
People die violent deaths in US cities every single day and the reason people still feel safe in their homes is because they don't hear about them due to the fact that it isn't considered news. "A woman was found shot/strangled or beaten to death in her apartment" could be a news title on just about any newspaper in just about any city or town in the US but once officials realize that she was murdered by her drug dealer boyfriend, that she herself was a drug user and that she is a woman of color, she no longer is classified as news. And her death does not change or influence anyone else's safety. The same goes here.
So I urge you to stop focusing your interest in stories that are not being shared and worry about your own interests.
It is unfortunate that many people have had negative experiences while traveling here. It really truly is but it doesn't represent the island as a whole. People are safe, just like anywhere else in the world; again, except for Iceland, one must ALWAYS be mindful of what they are doing, where and with whom. Bad choices and bad decisions usually have bad results.

Kristoffer - June 4, 2014 8:29 PM

Michele, you and I both know that you are just defending your business interests. Do the readers a favor and shut up.

Jonathan - June 4, 2014 8:49 PM

I have Lived here for two years and I have never felt unsafe. All these stories perpetuating nonsense and fear to the tourism the island so desperately needs. We get a lot of american tourists from the cruise ships asking if this place is safe?.... please.... I tell them go and look at the crime rate in your own town never mind state and compare it, they'll find that where they live is far worse than any where they may travel. This place is rich in culture and vitality stop labeling this place as a tourist death trap.

cruiser - June 4, 2014 11:54 PM

Why are u discrimininatin our island so much? Harddly any crime every happens here, have you seen what been going on in the United States? Why dont u talk about that? What happens in just one state in the US us nothing compared to what happened here because up the its much worst!! But since u think were just a poor island, under developed and un educated. u are sadly mistaken about this island. . I hope u open ur eyes in see whats going on in ur own country

Scott Schneider - June 5, 2014 6:12 AM

Crimes happen everywhere, Especially third world ports of call that most cruise ships tend to visit. St Thomas, Antigua, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Nassau etc... Honduras Mainland is one on the top of the list for murder levels in the world. However, The bay islands are not Mainland Honduras and crimes there are low in comparison to many other ports of call. I have been visiting Roatan for 10 years on a very regular basis and NEVER felt like I was in danger, even at night walking the streets in Los Fuertes getting some chicken or West end at 11PM. I have friends that live there and have had no loss of life or been robbed.

Sure, there are places I may not go at night, but there are those in Washington DC where I live and in Chicago, LA, New York, Nassau, Grand Cayman, Cancun, Kearney Nebraska, Miami etc...

This Lawyer is making a living online as a blogger and getting people to read his attacks on Roatan. That is all. Why attack a place that needs help not attack. Backed by the Castros and Hugo Chávez, Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration pulled federal funding when Manuel Zelaya was arrested for crimes against the Honduran constitution. Conditions rapidly went downhill on the mainland as the economy crashed.

I think the Honduran Government has done a good job protecting the Bay islands from mainland crime and drug lords in spite of people like this site trying to make matters worse. Do your homework on places all around the world where cruise ships dock and you will find Roatan is as safe as any other port of call.

Jim Walker - June 5, 2014 8:18 AM

It's Obama's fault! LOL

fisher - June 5, 2014 10:22 AM

To all you writers out there think bof your life with out god and what are the consequences in this life a nation that forget god will pay the price so leave my riatan alone cause all you that speak bad about her dont know nothing of it come injoy your self and dont go in the round road or do bad things then things happen so please be a part if the solution and no longer a part of the problem God bless you all

Verna Hauss - February 20, 2016 4:55 PM

I'd like to say, that Roatan Bay Islands has a lot of The Spanish Honduran leave the Coast to live in the Bay Islands, and most of the people who are doing these crimes are often deported from the USA back to Spanish Honduras and then they're moving to Roatan Bay Islands ( English/British Honduras once), you'll find most English decedent are more humble people, I'm not saying they are perfect, bcause is every where.... But I blame thE Roatan Mayor who needs to control the Islands, specially allowing the other side of Honduras to come on the Islands and commit all such crimes, if you noticed the Spanish names who are doing the crimes vs the English names..... sad story.... Our Islands need a stronger law to take charge in controlling this mess. I have nothing against the Spanish Hondurans, but the Spaniards needs to stay on the other side on their land, Roatan needs to become Independence some how somewhere. It can happened, if I had the power to do so, they would b allowed on our Islands, just like how most of the USA Anericans feels about the Mexicans and border line, that's how we feel.....

Verna Hauss - February 20, 2016 5:10 PM

And the Spanish police are also very nasty, can't be trusted, they're racist to our Islanders, I was born and raise in Roatan, I know all stories, most Roatanians who still live on this Island knows what im talking about..

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