Honduran President’s Brother, Arrested in Miami, Is Charged With Drug Trafficking

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — In a blow to President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, American prosecutors on Monday introduced drug expenses in opposition to his youthful brother, describing him as a “large-scale drug trafficker” who spent a dozen years transferring cocaine shipments sure for america by Central America.

Juan Antonio Hernández, 40, was deeply concerned in all facets of the drug commerce — arranging safety and safety for shipments, taking bribes from traffickers, and assuring authorities contracts for money-laundering entrance firms — in line with Geoffrey S. Berman, america legal professional in Manhattan.

Mr. Hernández was so established in trafficking, prosecutors stated, that he had even had his personal cocaine model: Laboratories in Colombia and Honduras stamped packets with the initials T.H., for Tony Hernández.

He was arrested in Miami on Friday, however American officers didn’t present particulars till Monday. The primary affirmation of the arrest got here from President Hernández himself on Friday, in an announcement from his workplace that reaffirmed his authorities’s dedication to justice and declared that nobody was above the regulation.

However the particulars of the allegations solid an undesirable highlight on the affect that drug traffickers exert over the Honduran state, and threatens to tarnish the popularity of President Hernández, an ally of america who has staked his credibility on the battle in opposition to organized crime.

It additionally underscores the entrenched corruption in Honduran regulation enforcement businesses at a time when hundreds of Hondurans are fleeing the nation’s violence and poverty to hunt asylum in america.

The migrants have been touring in caravans for cover alongside a route by Mexico, giving new visibility to the regular exodus of individuals from Honduras. 1000’s have arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, on the border with San Diego, to petition for asylum, and hundreds extra are anticipated to reach there within the coming weeks.

The president’s brother was linked to a trafficking group known as Los Cachiros, when its former chief, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, testified as a part of a plea take care of American prosecutors that he had paid Mr. Hernández a bribe.

Mr. Rivera has been cooperating with the Drug Enforcement Administration since December 2013. Those that have been convicted by his testimony embrace Fabio Lobo, the son of a former Honduran president, Porfirio Lobo.

Within the indictment launched on Monday, prosecutors stated the Cachiros had paid Mr. Hernández $50,000 to make sure that Honduran authorities businesses would make funds owed to entrance firms they operated to launder drug cash.

The indictment additionally alleged that Mr. Hernández “was concerned in processing, receiving, transporting and distributing multi-ton a great deal of cocaine that arrived in Honduras through planes, go-fast vessels, and on a minimum of one event, a submarine.”

As a part of his actions, the indictment stated, Mr. Hernández paid off regulation enforcement officers to guard shipments and in addition demanded bribes from drug traffickers for himself and “on behalf of a number of high-ranking Honduran politicians.”

Jeff Ernst reported from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Elisabeth Malkin from Mexico Metropolis.

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