(CNN Español) — He has not been formally accused, but this week the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, has stood out in the trial that follows an alleged drug trafficker in New York, and in which the president has been mentioned for his alleged participation or support for criminal operations, something he has previously denied on several occasions.
The last of the accusations came out this Thursday in the trial that follows Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez, detained in March 2020 at the Miami International Airport. Fuentes Ramírez is charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, in addition to crimes related to the use of high-caliber weapons and destructive devices, according to the US Department of Justice.
Federal prosecutors maintain that Fuentes was one of several drug traffickers who between 2004 and 2020 paid bribes to authorities in Honduras, such as politicians and law enforcement officials, to produce and ship hundreds of kilograms of cocaine to the United States each month via other countries. , like Colombia and Guatemala.
Fuentes pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in June 2020.
On the third day of the trial, this Thursday, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, designated by US authorities as a former leader of the Los Cachiros cartel, said that in 2012 he paid $ 250,000 to Hernández to avoid his arrest, according to a hearing transcript. At that time, the current president was serving as president of the Honduran Congress.
According to the report, Rivera Maradiaga, who turned himself in to the US authorities in 2015 and collaborates with the DEA, also said that he had bribed former President Manuel Zelaya with US $ 500,000 in 2006 and now Honduran Vice President Ricardo Álvarez in 2012.
On Tuesday, during the first day of the trial, a prosecutor said in court that Hernández promised to protect drug traffickers through the use of the country’s security forces and police agencies, according to a report by The New York Times.
Juan Orlando Hernández and others mentioned reject accusations
Juan Orlando Hernández did not respond to requests for comment sent by CNN since Thursday. A day before, the president had written on Twitter: “How to believe false testimonies that I made deals with drug traffickers, when it is proven that the Cachiros sought a deal with the US because of the impossibility of criminals to make a deal with me.”
Hernández added: “They are going to die in a foreign jail, if the Magic Key doesn’t work for them.”
For his part, Álvarez published a statement this Thursday in which he said: «I categorically deny any link or receipt of money of illicit origin by Devis Rivera or any other person accused of drug trafficking or any other crime … in Honduras and / or any country in the world.
Zelaya, who was ousted in a coup on June 28, 2009, also reacted to comments in the New York court. This Thursday he said on Twitter: “Irrefutable proof that I never received a bribe is that I never appointed a minister, neither from organized crime, nor due to pressure from the American embassy.”
The trial against Fuentes continued this Friday and had entered recess at the end of this article.
With information from Ana Melgar, Elvin Sandoval and Kiarinna Parisi
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism