By Gustavo Palencia
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The Honduran Congress approved on Thursday the creation of a new military-style police force, which is aimed at countering violence spawned by Mexican drug cartels that use the country to transport cocaine.
The new security law approved a force that will comprise 5,000 officers and will also allow judges and prosecutors to process drug-trafficking cases electronically from outside the Central American country for their own safety.
Honduras, home to the world's highest murder rate, has seen drug-related violence grow dramatically in recent years as traffickers use its territory to transport cocaine from producers in South America to consumers in the United States and Europe.
"Violence is in every neighborhood and every town and it needs to be confronted," said Honduran Security Minister Arturo Corrales. The Honduran army has led the fight against drug gangs until now.
President Porfirio Lobo is expected to sign the measure into law in the next few days.
In Mexico, where almost 80,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since 2007, President Enrique Pena Nieto is seeking to build up a new militarized police force to tackle the country's drug war instead of the army.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Simon Gardner and Eric Beech)