Honduras President Wanted to 'Shove Drugs Up the Noses of Gringos,' US Prosecutors Say

The new motion in a U.S. court alleges that Juan Orlando Hernández accepted bribes to protect a massive cocaine laboratory. 
January 11, 2021, 8:08pm
President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks at the 74th Session of the General Assembly at the United Nations
President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernandez speaks at the 74th Session of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters on September 25, 2019 in New York. Credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Image.

The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, allegedly said that he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos.” New revelations in court documents allege that Hernández "said that he wanted to make the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition.”

The startling allegations came to light in a new motion ahead of the upcoming trial of alleged Honduran drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes. The motion would allow witnesses to make allegations that show Fuentes’ connection to high-level politicians like Hernández. According to the document, witnesses intend to claim that Hernández accepted bribes from the defendant and ordered the country's security forces to protect a cocaine laboratory and its shipments.

The motion didn't list the beleaguered president by name, but it didn't try very hard to conceal his identity either. At various points it referred to Co-Conspirator 4 as the “president” and claimed that CC-4 directed the defendant to work with his brother, Tony Hernández, who was convicted in the United States in 2019 for drug trafficking.

President Hernández's name has been linked to the international drug trade for years, especially after his brother’s guilty verdict and claims from witnesses during that trial that the president accepted more than $1 million in bribes from notorious Mexican drug boss, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

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Hernández has repeatedly dismissed the allegations and claimed that the witnesses are all criminals who are falsely accusing him because of his hard stance against drug trafficking.

On Saturday, in response to the newest allegations, the president's office reiterated that stance when it tweeted: "The claim that Pres. Hernández supposedly accepted drug money from Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez, or gave protection or coordination to drug traffickers is 100% false, and appears to be based on lies of confessed criminals who seek revenge and to reduce their sentences."

But while Hernández continues to maintain his innocence, the new motion seeks to receive approval to submit evidence in the Fuentes case that paints a very different picture of the president’s role in the drug trade. 

Hector Silva, a senior investigator at InSight Crime, called the new allegations “revealing” because “it's all the details about the meetings, about the funding of campaigns, about the unification of drug routes, about the access to government resources in order to facilitate drug trafficking.”

Fuentes and other traffickers were "paying massive bribes" to Hernández and other high-ranking officials in exchange for protection by late 2013, according to the new document. The motion alleges that Fuentes worked with "a violent and prolific drug-trafficking organization in Honduras known as the Cachiros, who are now cooperating witnesses against the defendant."

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Fuentes allegedly ran the laboratory with the financial support of the Cachiros, "which beginning in approximately 2010 was producing approximately 200 to 300 kilograms of cocaine per month and was guarded by over approximately a dozen men armed with assault rifles including AK-47s and AR-15s."

Fuentes is also alleged to have been involved in at least four murders between 2010 and 2013, and in one incident, "kidnapped a law enforcement officer who dared to investigate the defendant’s cocaine laboratory, tortured the officer, and then stabbed him to death." 

In other murders, the Honduras National Police allegedly helped locate and capture the victims, and delivered them to the defendant and/or other co-conspirators to be tortured and murdered.

The president also allegedly "described participating in widespread public corruption within the Honduran government, including embezzling United States aid through non-governmental organizations and stealing from Honduras’s social security fund."

In 2017, Hernández controversially won re-election in a vote marred with allegations of fraud. During the four-year presidency of Donald Trump in the U.S, Hernández was able to shrug off the ongoing allegations as Trump and other diplomats maintained a close working relationship with the Honduras government, especially on the issue of immigration. But after Hernández announced that he will not seek reelection this year and intends to leave office in January 2022, many wonder if the president may be the next to face charges in a U.S court if incoming president Joe Biden makes curbing corruption in the region a priority.

“This for sure seems as though at least the U.S. Department of Justice is paving the road for a potential indictment,” said Silva, but also said it was anything but a done deal. “It will probably depend on the political will or political decision of the incoming Biden administration.”