Honduran President's Brother Found Guilty of Drug Trafficking

President Juan Orlando Hernandez said that traffickers were using his brother's trial to seek revenge.

A New York Federal Court on Friday found Juan Antonio Hernandez (aka Tony), the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH), guilty of charges of drug trafficking, use of weapons and lying to authorities.

During this trial President JOH was denounced by cooperating former members of the US Attorney’s Office for allegedly receiving bribes for his campaigns to Congress and the presidency, which led the U.S. justice to define the Central American country as a "Narco-State."

In his first public reaction to the veredict, the Honduran President said he was receiving the news with "great sadness" and rejected how his country has been labeled.

"I strongly reject... the unfair and false accusations that Honduras is a narco-state or a state that sponsors drug trafficking," JOH said.

Tony Hernandez was arrested in Miami in 2018 and accused of helping smuggle almost 220 cocaine tons into the U.S. while enjoying the protection of the Honduran president.

Hondurans are demanding again that JOH quit for being a 'narco'. The sign reads, "Out with narcopoliticians, out with JOH"

The U.S. jury heard testimonies from drug traffickers who are now cooperating with authorities, including former mayor Amilcar Ardon and former gang leader Devis Rivera.

Ardon told jurors that Tony promised Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman protection for his shipments in exchange for a US$1 million donation to JOH's 2013 presidential campaign.

In addition to this, Rivera, who admitted to murdering 78 people, testified that he paid bribes to multiple Honduran officials including Tony's brother.

The Honduran president, who began his second term in January 2018 amid allegations of electoral fraud, has not been charged with a crime yet.

Juan Orlando Hernandez, who has been trying to present himself as responsible for breaking up the most powerful cartels in his country, said that traffickers were using his brother's trial to seek revenge.

  • Published in World

Drug Trafficking Economy in Mexico Reports Billions in Revenues

In Mexico, a drug trafficking economy has taken roots and generates annual revenues of 600 billion pesos (more than 31 billion dollars).

That sum was disclosed in a research on the country's new development strategy that involved 477 experts and researchers from several universities, led by Jose Luis Calva, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The resources moved by organized crime, through drug trafficking, equal the sales from several industries that operate here legally, Calva explained in an interview with the newspaper La Jornada.

In a chain that goes from the crops to drug peddling on the streets, this drug trafficking economy generates revenues of 800 billion to one million people involved in that activity.

Calva referred to statistics provided by the US Department of State to say that in organized crime, 'illegal drug sales generate annual gross revenues of 600 billion pesos to the Mexican cartels.'

The same source, he added, notes that the Mexican drug cartels receive 19,000-39,000 million dollars a year from the United States.

For the sake of comparison, the scholar recalled that family remittances to Mexico amount to 22 billion dollars a year, according to the Bank of Mexico.

  • Published in World

Ecuadorean Bus Crash Linked to Drug Trafficking

Colombian and Ecuadorean authorities have confirmed the bus that crashed Tuesday leaving 24 dead was carrying cocaine.  

At least 80 kilos of cocaine were found in the Colombian bus that crashed near Papallacta, Ecuador, police authorities announced Thursday.

RELATED: New Details on Bus Crash in Ecuador Creates Mystery

“There are 80 so far, but we haven’t finished counting. It is not the first time they have used tourist buses to smuggle drugs through the border,” a source in Colombia’s Office of the Attorney General told AFP.

The accident occurred Tuesday at 2:55 a.m. and caused 24 deaths and 14 injuries. The case appeared to be a simple transit incident, but the story became progressively strange as authorities realized most of the travelers didn’t have identification, and later learned they were participating in a free trip that covered transport, food, and lodging.   

Police investigations determined the 38 victims were used as drug mules without their knowledge.

Ecuadorean authorities have said they are not surprised by the discovery. This year over two tons of cocaine has been smuggled in international tour buses transporting “beneficiaries” of free trips.

Security forces in both Ecuador and Colombia are collaborating on the investigation to determine the causes of the accident and identify those responsible for the cargo.

Relatives and friends of the victims, most of who come from El Guabal neighborhood, in the city of Cali, claim the free trip was offered by a woman who lives in the community.

So far her identity has not been revealed, but authorities have been told she is a nurse. She was also on the bus during the accident and suffered severe injuries.   

This new mode of trafficking has been witnessed since early 2017 when half a ton of illicit substances were seized in the northern Ecuadorean city of Tulcan.

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Venezuela Dismantled Drug Trafficking Network

Caracas, Jul 12 (Prensa Latina) As part of a continued campaign against drug-trafficking Venezuela's Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, reported the seizure of 82 kgs of cocaine in five shipments made through the MRW parcel company, bound to the Netherlands and Ivory Coast.

The head of the Public Prosecutor's Office explained that from June 20 to 22 officers of the Anti-drug Command of the Bolivarian National Guard detected five shipments of furniture and paintings in which they found several packages with the illegal substance.

He said that four of these shipments had originated in the state of Tachira and one from Anzoategui, and were discovered at the headquarters of MRW in Caracas.

At a press conference Saab added that for sending these parcels the traffickers used false identities, although the prosecution managed to identify the head of the criminal organization as Edgar Vitelio Bermudez, against whom an arrest warrant was issued.

The Public Prosecutor's Office, along with other State security forces, proceeded to raid the MRW offices in the towns of La Fria (Tachira) and Lecherias (Anzoategui), as well as Bermudez' properties.

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Cuba Seized over 5.5 Tons of Drugs in 2017

Havana, Jun 26 (Prensa Latina) Cuba seized more than 5.5 tons of narcotics in 2017, most of them occupied at sea during landfalls, today reported the Secretary of the National Drug Commission (CND), Antonio Israel Ybarra.

In a press conference, Ybarra explained that 95 percent of the drugs were confiscated by sea, in marijuana and cocaine packages that landed on the shores of the island after being launched into the Caribbean Sea by drug traffickers, sometimes to avoid controls and others to be collected later by consumer countries.

According to the official, Cuba is neither a transit country nor a destination for drugs and consumption is very low.

According to a prevalence survey conducted two years ago, the use of narcotics is 0.038 percent.

Ybarra specified that last year, 48 Cubans and foreigners were prosecuted for the crime of drug trafficking, while in airports the national authorities seized 57.4 kilograms of narcotics in 94 incidents.

Also, in the same period, 67,000 marijuana plants were occupied as part of Cuba's political will to fight drugs, the expert added.

Our backbone to face this scourge is prevention, which is closely related to people's education in order to foster a culture of rejection of these substances, Ybarra said.

It also ratified Cuba's policy of zero tolerance for drugs and the prevalence in the country of comprehensive strategies aimed at achieving a balance between preventive and confrontational actions.

  • Published in Cuba
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