File photo of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez at a press conference in Tegucigalpa, January 9, 2020 (REUTERS / Jorge Cabrera)
The president of Honduras was a partner in a cocaine lab that built tons of drugs to send to the United StatesA New York attorney general said Friday in a drug smuggling trial dealing with entrenched corruption at the highest political level in the Central American country.
Prosecutors assert in Manhattan Federal Court that Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of Honduras, was an accomplice of the accused, Giovanni Fuentes Ramirez, and His brother, Tony Hernandez, was found guilty of large-scale drug trafficking in New York in 2019. Although they did not press charges against him, throughout the two-week operation they insisted that he participated in the conspiracy.
“Not only did Juan Orlando Hernandez want the defendant’s money (in the form of bribes), but he wanted access to the defendant’s cocaine (…) so that he could export it” to the United States via Puerto Cortes, the largest port in Honduras, near the cocaine compound. In Cerro Negro, Prosecutor Michael Lockard said in his closing statement to the Fuentes trial.
The prosecutor said that the mediator between the president and Fuentes was his brother Tony.
“Tony Hernandez, like Juan Orlando Hernandez, was one of the defendant’s drug smuggling partners. He is the man who ran the drug trade for Juan Orlando who took bribes from drug money from Los Cacheros, “He’s the man who sent in the kilos of cocaine with his initials,” said Lockard.
The Prosecutor mentioned that “Al Cacheros paid huge sums to the presidents and presidential candidates: Juan Orlando Hernandez, his predecessor Pepe Lobo, his predecessor Manuel Zelaya, Ricardo Alvarez, who became Vice President and many others.”
The Honduran president denies all accusations and asserts that he has fought the drug trade with great success since he took office in 2014.
Tony Hernandez, brother of the Honduran president who was found guilty of large-scale drug trafficking in New York in 2019 (AP)
‘A lot of money is at stake’
Prosecutor Lockard stated this The cocaine plant in question, located near the northern Honduran city of Choloma, was not closed after the 2011 raid, As he was supposed to at the time, but he kept working.
He pointed out that in the police operation that was carried out in 2011, no drugs were found, as the accused was alerted to the raid, and that later. Fuentes was kidnapped, tortured and killed, along with his partner, Melvin “Metro” Sanders, the policeman who led the operation.
“The laboratory was not closed because the defendant had reached an agreement with Juan Orlando Hernandez and his brother (…) to keep it running,” said Lockard. “There was a lot of money at stake.”
In his closing statement, defense attorney Avi Moskowitz vehemently attacked the credibility of cooperating witnesses, especially Former Los Catcheros head of gang, Lionel Rivera, who confessed to killing or ordering the killing of 78 people faces life in prison in addition to 30 years in prison.
“This man must be the most despicable and despicable man any of us has ever met in any sphere of life. This is the person the government has put on the witness stand, which they have asked him to believe beyond a reasonable doubt.” Moskowitz said, “A man who has no morals or scruples.” He may have no soul. “
He also said that the government did not display videos, photos, police, forensic reports, or other evidence to secure the conviction of the defendants. “The bottom line is that there is no evidence of any corrupt dealings with all these officers and politicians,” he said.
Prosecutors say the defendant removed evidence such as text messages and WhatsApp, but they maintain that he had contact with Hernandez and several other politicians and policemen on his cell phone, and that on two occasions he searched for how to drive to the presidential residence. In the Waze app. On both occasions, he did so after US prosecutors submitted important documents in the case against Tony Hernandez.
“The evidence at the trial showed that the defendant was exactly what we said, that he was a violent drug dealer who distributed huge quantities of cocaine and committed corruption and murder,” said Prosecutor Jacob Gottwilig.
Photo provided by the Honduran Presidency of President Juan Orlado Hernandez, during the inauguration of the Fourth Legislative Council of the National Congress, in Tegucigalpa in January 2021. EFE
Fuentes, who was arrested a year ago in Miami, is charged with three counts of drug trafficking and weapons possession. The jury began deliberating its verdict on Friday and will continue to do so next Monday.
The verdict of Tony Hernandez, accused of smuggling 185 tons of cocaine to the United States, is scheduled for March 30.
Fabio Lobo, son of former Honduran President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo (2010-2014), was sentenced in 2017 in New York to 24 years in prison for smuggling 1.4 tons of cocaine into the United States.
Written by Laura Bonilla (AFP)
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They accused the Honduran president of helping a drug trafficker to smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States