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  • Leonel Rivera met with U.S. prosecutors almost a dozen times to provide information and negotiate his plea bargain according to Agence France-Presse.

    Leonel Rivera met with U.S. prosecutors almost a dozen times to provide information and negotiate his plea bargain according to Agence France-Presse. | Photo: AFP

Published 2 April 2017

"It's the deal with the devil," said a lawyer close to the case. "This guy has admitted to 78 murders" but the judge has complete discretion when it comes to deciding on his sentence.

According to reports, Honduran drug lord Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga and one of his brothers have made plea deals with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

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Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, his parents and siblings, reportedly ran a drug cartel in Honduras called Los Cachiros. The brothers, who are believed to be operating as informants, had their assets seized by Honduran authorities when the U.S. Treasury Department put the names of the entire family on a blacklist in 2013.

The brothers made deals with U.S. prosecutors in New York on condition that they were the only members of the family who would serve time in prison. Their mother, father, sister and a second brother are reportedly living in the U.S. under assumed identities in witness protection. Leonel Rivera had secretly recorded conversations with fellow drug barons prior to cooperating with the DEA. One such accomplice was Fabio Lobo, son of former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo.

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According to prosecutors, Leonel Rivera revealed that the Los Cachiros gang had at least 22 contracts with Lobo's Government. They also added that they would investigate the government officials named by Leonel Rivera. "This is what makes the Los Cachiros case so interesting, because it's a little window into the way organized crime and elites intersect in places like Honduras," said Steven Dudley, co-director of Insight Crime, a think tank that studies organized crime in the Americas. "This is important because it sends the message that impunity is not total, that there is some accountability somewhere, there exists some system that is willing to hold even the highest powers accountable," he added.

Leonel Rivera met with U.S. prosecutors almost a dozen times, between Dec. 5, 2013 and Sep. 21, 2015, to provide information and negotiate the terms of his plea bargain, according to court documents seen by Agence France-Presse. The two brothers surrendered to the DEA and each pleaded guilty to charges including murder, drug trafficking and conspiracy to ship illegal drugs into the U.S.

This week the U.S. authorities said that Leonel Rivera will be sentenced on April 14. He could face life in prison, but the U.S. Government could also grant him a reprieve in the form of a reduced sentence and or an entry into the witness protection program. "It's the deal with the devil," said a lawyer close to the case. "This guy has admitted to 78 murders" but the judge has complete discretion when it comes to deciding on his sentence.

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