Authorities in Honduras on Jan. 7 announced the seizure of a gold-plated, jewel-encrusted AK-47 assault rifle, complete with two silver magazines. The rifle, estimated to be worth more than $50,000, turned up in a raid along with other military equipment at a ranch in Choloma, some 300 kilometers from Tegucigalpa, where two security guards were detained. Authorities said the gold-plated rifle had an engraving associated with the Malverde drug gang, which is allegedly in league with Mexico's notorious Zetas. "It's an exclusive design and a fine carving," said National Police chief Leonel Sauceda.
More than 30 other weapons were found in the raid, including rifles, grenade launchers, night-vision kits, bayonets and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Police also found bullet-proof vests, 11 cars and two tow-trucks. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world, according to a UN ranking, with nearly 92 killings per 100,000 habitants in 2011. (BBC News, La Prensa de Honduras, Jan. 7)