TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Purebred horses. Fancy jewelry. A mansion with a pool. These are just a few of the luxuries that an alleged drug trafficker and his influencer wife showed off to millions of followers on TikTok and other social media apps.
But even with such a conspicuous, and compromising, display of opulence, Oscar Santos somehow evaded Honduran justice for over four years.
In the end, however, his flamboyant lifestyle might have led the authorities right to him.
Anti-narcotics officers captured Santos, alias “El Teto,” on August 23 in western Honduras at the sprawling mansion that was the scene for countless videos and photos shared online by the couple. He’s charged with conspiracy to traffic drugs to the U.S. by federal prosecutors in Texas, who have requested his extradition.
If Santos were to stand trial rather than cooperate with U.S. authorities as many Honduran traffickers do, prosecutors have a trove of evidence in the photos and videos.
Santos lived in a small, coffee-growing town along the border with Guatemala called El Paraíso, Copan, a key cog in the drug trafficking pipeline from South America to the U.S. The town was controlled for years by confessed narco Alexánder Ardón, who was once the mayor and who turned himself into the DEA after being indicted in 2019.
His wife, Karen Ramos, who has not been charged with any crime, was a bona fide influencer who along with her identical twin sister formed a content-creating duo with three million followers on TikTok, making it one of the most-viewed accounts in Honduras. The sisters always wore matching outfits and posted videos mostly of themselves dancing and lip syncing.
Ramos is also reportedly a niece of the former leaders of the Valle Valle clan, which for about a decade was one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in Honduras. The leaders were captured in 2014 and are cooperating with U.S. authorities.
It isn’t clear which organization Santos worked with, but remnants of the Valle Valle clan are believed to still operate in the region.
In a statement following the arrest, the public prosecutor’s office said that Santos had evaded authorities for more than four years, suggesting that the extradition request for him arrived in 2017 or earlier.
Santos’s social media presence dates back to at least February 2020 when he posted on TikTok a short video of himself riding a white, dancing horse -- a prized possession among ranchers and narcos. Other videos featured his cattle ranch or his palatial home, revealing its extravagant chandeliers, custom woodwork and marble pillars. By the time of his capture, he had almost 80,000 followers on the app.
His wife has deleted all the content on her social media accounts, while Santos’s content remains up for the world to see.
The charges against Santos are likely based in part on the testimony of drug traffickers who are cooperating with the DEA. Santos likely knew that alleged former associates were in U.S. custody and that an indictment against him could come at any time. But he sought out the limelight on social media regardless.
Now, he’s in jail awaiting extradition.