New York City, US, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- A Honduran man accused of criminal dealings with the Central American country’s president and other officials was found guilty by a 12-member jury of three counts of drug trafficking and weapons charges in a New York City court on Monday.
Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez was arrested in Miami in March 2020 in connection with a case against José Antonio “Tony” Hernández, the brother of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado. In October 2019, Tony Hernandez was convicted of the same drug trafficking and weapons charges as Fuentes Ramírez.
The Prosecutor’s Office maintains that in 2013 Fuentes Ramírez paid then-presidential candidate Hernández Alvarado at least $25,000 in exchange for the protection of and access to a cocaine laboratory controlled by Fuentes Ramírez near Puerto Cortés shipping port, according to a court document.
“Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez was, up until his arrest by the DEA just over a year ago, a ruthless, powerful, and murderous cocaine trafficker in Honduras,” said Manhattan attorney Audrey Strauss in the court document.
“He facilitated the shipment of large loads of cocaine by bribing Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, then president of the Honduran National Congress and now the Honduran president.
“Hernández Alvarado instructed Fuentes Ramírez to report directly to convicted co-conspirator and former Honduran congressman Tony Hernandez, the president’s brother. Now Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez, one of the criminal conduits between Honduran officials and drug traffickers, faces a possible life behind bars,” Strauss said.
During the trial, the Prosecutor’s Office described Honduras as a narco-state and its cooperating witnesses have also implicated the vice president, Ricardo Arias, as well as former presidents Porfirio Lobo and José Manuel Zelaya, among other senior political, judicial and security officials.
Hernández Alvarado, who has not been charged by the US with a crime, has categorically denied accusations against him on several occasions.
After the verdict, the president tweeted: “Any narrative regarding the battle against drug trafficking in Honduras that omits the unprecedented 95% reduction (official US data) we achieved, is usually just a vehicle for dramatic headlines to promote false testimony by narcos we defeated.”
Judge Kevin Castel has scheduled Fuentes Ramírez’s sentencing for June 22, and that of Tony Hernández for the 30th.
In the case of Hernández, the Prosecutor’s Office has asked the judge to impose life imprisonment. EFE-EPA