In a lawsuit against Geovanny Fuentes for drug trafficking into the United States, US prosecutor Jacob Gutwillig accused Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández of helping to bring kilos of cocaine into the country.
In the first allegations made on Tuesday (9) to a jury in New York, Gutwillig said that Fuentes had bribed politicians, the military, the police and “even the president of Honduras”. This association made him untouchable and made his illegal business flourish, the prosecution said.
According to the case presented, in 2013 and 2014 the defendants paid bribes of US $ 25,000 (approximately R $ 145,000, at the current rate) in cash with the drug trafficking money to the current president in return. protection and access to the drug laboratory Fuentes, in the mountains of Honduras.
There, according to the prosecution, hundreds of kilos of cocaine were produced per month. One kilogram of the drug gives 8,000 individual doses and sells for $ 30,000 in New York City, Gutwillig said. He added that with the collaboration of the police, armed forces and Honduran politicians, the accused traveled freely to the north of the country.
Fuentes and Hernández planned to send as much cocaine as possible to the United States, the prosecutor said. According to Gutwillig, an accountant identified as José Sánchez, who worked for a rice company with which Fuentes laundered money and was present at these meetings, will tell the jury throughout the trial “the shock, the fear he felt when he saw the accused seated with the president ”.
Sánchez is also to report that the president told Fuentes “that he would bring so much cocaine into the United States that he” would put the drugs in the noses of the gringos “”.
For the prosecutor, the accused “was part of the Honduran narco-state”, and “the president made him bulletproof”.
To counter the charges, defense attorney Eylan Schulman attempted to discredit the accountant’s testimony in his pleadings. According to him, Sánchez has a lot to gain and little to lose with his testimony, adding that the witness expects to be granted asylum in the United States in return.
Schulman also attempted to decrease the amount of the alleged amount paid to the Honduran representative. “It is assumed that $ 25,000 is enough to bribe a president,” he said.
The defense also told the jury that they should not believe the testimony that will be given by whoever called “one of the worst murderers on the face of the Earth”. Leonel Rivera, former leader of the Honduran Los Cachiros cartel, which killed 78 people, is in prison in the United States for drug trafficking.
“The government [dos EUA] agreed to make a deal with this demon […] You should never believe it, ”said Schulman, who has championed the role of the Hernández government in the fight against drug trafficking.
Although prosecutors in the case see the President of Honduras as a co-conspirator of Fuentes in sending tons of drugs to the United States, Hernández has not been charged by the US court.
His brother, Tony Hernández, was convicted of “large-scale” drug trafficking in New York in October 2019, and his sentence, which has been postponed several times, is scheduled for March 23. He can be sentenced to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Prosecutors say Tony was the intermediary between Fuentes and the President of Honduras.
The first witness in the trial was Agent Brian Fairbanks of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), who confirmed to the jury that he had found Juan Orlando Hernández’s email and cell phone number.
The prosecution showed court photos of Fuentes’ brother and son with the president found on the accused’s phone, as well as photos of various weapons on iCloud (Apple’s cloud storage system) from one of Fuentes’ sons. One contained an automatic rifle offered as a gift to the president with the inscription “JOH, President of the Republic” above the trigger.
Fuentes was arrested in Miami, Florida on March 1, 2020 and faces three counts of drug trafficking and possession of a firearm.
The President of Honduras, who took office in 2014 and is in his second term, denies all accusations and presents himself as a hero in the fight against drug trafficking and the violent gangs that sow terror in the country.
On Monday (8), he said in a Twitter post that witnesses who accuse him will give false testimony in revenge for his fight against drug trafficking and reduce his prison terms in the United States.
He warned that “if the traffickers with the magic key to lies gain advantages from the United States through false depositions, the international alliance with Honduras will collapse.”
At Tony Hernández’s trial in New York, witnesses also said that former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo (2010-2014) received bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for protection.
Lobo’s son, Fábio, was sentenced in 2017, also in New York, to 24 years in prison for drug trafficking.