Posted on January 15, 2021

Honduran President Hernández Implicated in Drug Trade

Jose de Cordoba, Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2021

New York federal prosecutors made new allegations that Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, a key Trump administration ally in efforts to stop illegal migrants, received millions of dollars from drug traffickers to help export tons of cocaine to the U.S.

The allegations against Mr. Hernández came in a filing made Friday night in the Southern District of New York in the case of Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez, an alleged Honduran drug trafficker who is in prison in New York, and is alleged to have run a lab that produced hundreds of tons of cocaine a month.

In the most explosive allegation in the filing, it said the president, 52 years old, boasted to Mr. Fuentes Ramirez that “he wanted to shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos.”

The claims underscore the difficult challenge posed by Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, to the incoming Biden administration. President-elect Joe Biden has promised a new emphasis on economic development, ending corruption and promoting the rule of law as a way of attacking the deep-rooted causes that push migrants from Central American countries to journey to the U.S.


The allegations aren’t the first against the president, whose brother Juan Antonio Hernández was convicted of drug trafficking in 2019. During that trial, testimony also implicated the president in protecting drug traffickers in exchange for bribes.


The filing alleges Mr. Hernández boasted of looting the country’s social security fund as well as U.S.-donated relief funds through fraudulent nongovernmental organizations.


The filing says that in meetings in 2013, Mr. Fuentes Ramirez paid the president, then a candidate, “tens of thousands of dollars” to ensure the Honduran military protected his drug shipments.

The money also bought legal immunity and safety from extradition, the filing said. In exchange, Mr. Fuentes Ramirez allegedly agreed to work with President Hernández, reporting to his younger brother Juan Antonio, the filing said.

President Hernández assumed power in 2014 and was re-elected in 2017, amid widespread allegations of fraud, for a term that finishes in January 2022. {snip}