NEW YORK (AP) – The former head of the Honduran drug cartel has been convicted in a US federal court on Thursday of paying $ 250,000 in 2012 to defend incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez.
The former head of the Cachiros cartel, Davis Leonel Rivera Maradaya, testified that he made the payment in cash through one of Hernանդndez’s sisters, Hilda Hernանդndez, “in exchange for protection” so that the military police and the preventive police would not catch us in Honduras. »
He said he had paid so that he would not be extradited to the United States, so governments would prefer companies that use Cachiros to launder money. Rivera Maradiaga has pleaded guilty to 78 counts of murder.
At the time of the alleged bribery, Juan Orlando Hernandez was the leader of the Honduran Congress, but began to orient himself for the presidency, which he won in 2013. He took office the following January. Hilda Hernandez, who later served in her administration, died in a helicopter crash in 2017.
The indictment was filed on the third day of the trial of Fickes Ramirez, a suspected drug dealer. U.S. Attorneys have made it clear that charges will be brought against President Hernandez during the trial, although he has not been charged.
Fuentes Ramirez was arrested in March 2020 in Florida. He is accused of drug trafficking and possession of weapons.
Hernandez has strongly denied any involvement in drug trafficking. One of his brothers, Juan Antonio Hernandez, was convicted in the same court in 2019 for drug trafficking.
During that trial, the president was accused of accepting more than $ 1 million from Mexican drug dealer Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
U.S. prosecutors say most of Hernandez’s political rise was funded by drug dealers who paid to be allowed to smuggle drugs into Honduras.
In January, U.S. Attorneys filed a motion in the Fuentes Ramirez case alleging that Hernandez had taken bribes from drug dealers to protect the country’s cocaine lab from shipment to the United States.
The documents cite Hernandez as being in the fourth plot, who says he wants to “stuff drugs into the nose of the Gringos” by filling the United States with water and cocaine. “
In a series of tweets this week, Hernandez said New York Witnesses were trying to commute their sentences by fabricating lies against him.
The Hernandez administration is expected to be more cautious with President Biden than with former President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, former US Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacob Jacobson, now White House coordinator for the southern border, said Biden wanted no more than $ 4 billion to send development aid to the North American North American triangle. the presidents of those three countries.
Last month, Democratic senators introduced a bill that called on Biden to impose sanctions on Hernandez to “find out if he is a drug dealer.”
The bill calls for a halt to security aid to Honduras, a ban on tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets for Honduran security forces, and calls on the United States to oppose loans from multilateral development banks.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Lee said in a statement Thursday that democracy in Central America faces an “existential threat.” Regarding Honduras, he said that “corruption is rampant in the upper echelons of government, civil society activists are being attacked, and the justice system is complicit in maintaining lawlessness and impunity.”
Rivera Maradiaga testified on Thursday that he bribed former President Juan Manuel Ze Elay’s $ 500,000 in 2006 and current Vice President Ricardo Alvarez $ 500,000 in 2012.
Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman contributed to this report in Mexico City.