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A defendant in a drug trafficking trial claims that senior members of the Honduran government received millions of dollars in bribes.
The New York Southern District Court on Monday began a trial against Geovanny Fuentes who faces drug trafficking charges. The case also involves Honduras' President Juan Orlando Hernandez(JOH) and other high-ranking officials.
In 2020, Fuentes was arrested in Miami and charged by a Manhattan federal court with conspiracy to import cocaine into the U.S. and weapons offenses involving the use and possession of machine guns and destructive devices. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Los Cachiros cartel leader Leonel Rivera, who will testify in the trial, said that his criminal organization paid massive bribes in exchange for law enforcement protection, including non-extradition to the U.S.
U.S. federal prosecutors claimed that Hernandez allegedly accepted millions of dollars in bribes from a drug trafficking organization with which his brother, Tony, was also involved.
Furthermore, the illegal organization conspired with other high-level politicians and the National Police to operate cocaine laboratories in Honduras and distribute the drugs via air and sea routes.
Hernandez, who despite the allegations is not listed as a defendant, has denied the charges, highlighting that the accusations are based on "the lies of confessed criminals who seek revenge or to reduce their sentences."
Analysts forecast that the revelations during Fuentes' trial might jeopardize the policy towards this Central American nation, especially concerning the US$4 billion plan to avoid migrants' caravans. They could also affect primary elections to take place this month ahead of the November general elections.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began investigating Hernandez and other officials for drug trafficking and money laundering in 2013 when he was elected president.