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U.S. prosecutors say the Honduran president took bribes in 2019

NEW YORK (AP) – Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has accepted a bribe from drug trafficking until 2019. Not just years ago, the US Attorney said on Friday.

In the closing arguments of the trial of Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez, a Honduran drug dealer in New York, Michael Lockard, a US lawyer, said that the defendant met twice in 2019 and paid a bribe to Hernandez.

Repeated charges against Hernandez, who has presided since January 2014, have overshadowed the charges against Fuentes Ramirez, although no charges have been filed against Hernandez.

Hernandez has repeatedly denied any involvement in drug trafficking, although one of his brothers faces life in prison later this month for drug trafficking.

Lockard noted that Fuentes Ramirez spoke about these meetings with Davis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, the former leader of the Cachiros cartel, while both were locked up in New York.

“Back in 2019, a year before his arrest, the defendant continued to meet and pay bribes to President Hernandez,” Lockard said. “When he saw Rivera Maradiaga in prison, he said he had two meetings with President Hernandez last year and bribed him in both meetings.”

“Juan Orlando Hernandez not only wanted cash, he also wanted access to the defendant’s cocaine,” Lockard said. “Defendant’s drug lab was located a short distance from Honduras’ largest port city, Puerto Cortes. Juan Orlando wanted defendant cocaine so he could export it through that port. It will cost millions to enter the defendant’s laboratory. “

Lockard also said that Fuentes Ramիրrez had met with senior Honduran military officials at the request of Hernandez to discuss money laundering.

At the beginning of the trial, the accountant testified that he had witnessed two meetings between Fuentes Ramirez and Hernandez in 2013, during which the defendant paid a bribe to the presidential candidate.

This week, in documents filed by prosecutors in the case of Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez, the brother of former Honduran Congressman Hernandez, the US government claimed that the president had been involved for a long time. Prosecutors say the president’s political rise was funded by drug traffickers in exchange for protection for their illegal activities.

“The defendant was a Honduran congressman who, along with his brother Juan Orlando Hernandez, played a leading role in a conspiracy to sell state-sponsored drugs,” prosecutors wrote.

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