Honduran president denies drug trafficking accusations by US prosecutor
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Wednesday denied allegations made by a US prosecutor that he helped smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States.
New York prosecutor Jacob Gutwillig said in federal court on Tuesday that Hernandez was paid a $25,000 bribe by Geovanny Fuentes, who is on trial.
“How can anyone believe false testimonies that I was dealing with drug traffickers,” Hernandez wrote on Twitter, reiterating his accusation that his accusers are using a “magic key” to try not to die in a foreign jail.
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Gutwillig claimed that accountant Jose Sanchez was present at meetings in 2013 and 2014 where Honduran Fuentes paid the money to Hernandez.
Sanchez was due to tell the New York jury about “the shock, the fear he felt when he saw the defendant sitting with the president,” said Gutwillig.
The witness worked at a rice-growing company through which Fuentes laundered money, the prosecutor alleged.
Sanchez will testify that Hernandez told Fuentes “they’d transport so much cocaine into the US they’d shove the drugs up the noses of the gringos,” said Gutwillig.
Hernandez, a lawyer who came to power in January 2014 and is in his second term, has styled himself as a champion in the fight against drugs.
US prosecutors consider him a co-conspirator alongside Fuentes but have not charged him.
The president’s brother, Tony Hernandez, was convicted of large-scale drug trafficking at a New York trial in 2019.
The sentencing in that case has been delayed several times and is now scheduled for March 23. The brother could be sentenced to life in prison.
Prosecutors say he was the middle man between accused trafficker Fuentes and the president.
President Hernandez was linked to drug trafficking at his brother’s trial by Leonel Rivera, the leader of a Honduran drug trafficking gang called “Los Cachiros.”
“The false testimonies of drug traffickers are obvious lies. The drug traffickers gave their ‘sworn statement’ that for $25,000 the drug traffickers bought total impunity,” wrote Hernandez.
“But 10 days before my election (in 2013) Los Cachiros decided to abandon their billion dollar empire to negotiate their surrender to the US.”
In the trial of Tony Hernandez, Rivera said the president received millions of dollars in bribes from drug traffickers to protect the cocaine shipments to the United States.
“How can anyone believe false statements that I dealt with drug traffickers when it’s a proven fact that Los Cachiros tried to make a deal with the US,” said the president.
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