The version of events by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regarding an operation the agency undertook in 2012 alongside Honduran military and police forces has been cast in doubt after a video of the operation was released, according to The New York Times.

Dubbed "Operation Anvil," the raid took place on a remote island in Honduras and managed to seize over 400 kilos of cocaine, but also resulted in the death of four Honduran civilians; one man. two women and a 14-year-old boy. It is the DEA's version of the civilian deaths that now appears inaccurate, after the release of the video.

The DEA has over the years maintained that their agents were fired upon, and only returned fire. The video, on the other hand, shows a different order of events.

Analysis of the video

The New York Times hired a forensic expert, Bruce Koenig, who is a former FBI supervisor from the video and audio department. Koenig, who analyzed the shooting frame by frame, observed consistent gunfire flares, coming only from the boat that was carrying the DEA agents.

The footage, which was captured using a night vision camera by an overhead helicopter that was part of the raid, is grainy but numerous flashes of gunfire can be seen clearly coming from the anti-drug boat. The passenger boat that the DEA claimed started the shooting, only produces one flash of light.

According to Koenig, that one flash from the passenger boat could have been produced by a bullet striking the engine, which would produce a similar flare to gunfire when viewed through infra-red. After the incident, one bullet was found to have struck the passenger boat's engine, while the anti-drug boat had no signs of even a single bullet.

Inspector general's report

In May, the inspector general's report was released and stated that there was no evidence supporting the DEA's story of a shootout from the video. In anticipation of the report, the DEA disbanded the team that had taken part in the operation, shortly before the report was released.

Also, numerous requests for the release of the video have been met by stiff opposition from the DEA over the past five years, and it took a federal case for the DEA to finally oblige.

A judge first ordered the DEA to release the video through the Freedom of Information Act in January 2016. The DEA appealed the ruling. The video was finally released in June 2017, when an Appellate court ruled against the DEA. Congress, which also looked into the incident and had over eight briefings from the agency, including response letters to Senators and Representatives, was told the shooting by the DEA was justified.