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Honduras: Convicted in US Federal Court On Drug Trafficking And Weapons Charges

Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez Conspired with High-Ranking Honduran Politicians and Members of the Honduran Military and National Police to Operate a Cocaine Lab in Honduras and Distribute Cocaine Using Air and Maritime Routes

Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that a jury returned a guilty verdict against GEOVANNY FUENTES RAMIREZ (“FUENTES RAMIREZ”) on all three counts in the Indictment, which included cocaine-importation and weapons charges.  FUENTES RAMIREZ is scheduled to be sentenced by the Honorable P. Kevin Castel on June 22, 2021.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez was, up until his arrest by the DEA just over a year ago, a ruthless, powerful, and murderous cocaine trafficker in Honduras.  He facilitated the shipment of large loads of cocaine by bribing Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, then president of the Honduran National Congress and now the Honduran president.  Hernández Alvarado instructed Fuentes Ramirez to report directly to convicted co-conspirator and former Honduran congressman Tony Hernandez, the president’s brother.  Now Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez, one of the criminal conduits between Honduran officials and drug traffickers, faces a possible life behind bars.”

As reflected in the Indictment, public filings, and the evidence presented at trial:

Beginning in or about 2009, FUENTES RAMIREZ and others established and operated a cocaine laboratory in the Cortés Department of Honduras, where they produced hundreds of kilograms of cocaine each month.  FUENTES RAMIREZ worked with others to receive cocaine shipments sent to Honduras over air and maritime routes, and to transport cocaine that he produced at the laboratory.  FUENTES RAMIREZ provided security for the facility, and for the transportation of cocaine, using heavily armed workers and Honduran police and military personnel.

On several occasions between approximately 2010 and 2013, FUENTES RAMIREZ helped arrange or directly participated in drug-related violence.  In or about 2012, for example, after FUENTES RAMIREZ’s cocaine laboratory was raided by law enforcement, FUENTES RAMIREZ beat and tortured a law enforcement official who FUENTES RAMIREZ believed to have been involved in the investigation of the laboratory.  FUENTES RAMIREZ murdered the officer by shooting him in the head with what FUENTES RAMIREZ described as “mercy shots.”

In or about 2013, FUENTES RAMIREZ paid a bribe of at least approximately $25,000 to Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado (“JOH”), who was at the time the president of the Honduran National Congress, and allowed JOH to access millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine from FUENTES RAMIREZ’s laboratory.  In connection with negotiations relating to the laboratory, JOH told FUENTES RAMIREZ that he was interested in access to the laboratory because of its proximity to Puerto Cortés, a key shipping port on the northern coast of Honduras.  JOH also told FUENTES RAMIREZ that the Honduran armed forces would provide security, and that Óscar Fernando Chinchilla Banegas, the Attorney General of Honduras, would help protect FUENTES RAMIREZ’s drug trafficking activities.  JOH instructed FUENTES RAMIREZ to report directly to JOH’s brother, Juan Antonio Hernández Alvarado (“Tony Hernández”), for purposes of their drug trafficking partnership.  Finally, JOH told FUENTES RAMIREZ that he wanted to make the DEA think that Honduras was fighting drug trafficking, but that instead he was going to eliminate extradition and “stuff drugs up the gringos’ noses,” referring to flooding the United States with cocaine. 

In October 2019, Tony Hernández was convicted of the same offenses as FUENTES RAMIREZ, as well as an additional count of making false statements to the DEA.  FUENTES RAMIREZ met with JOH following two key filings in the prosecution of Tony Hernández, as demonstrated by, among other things, data from FUENTES RAMIREZ’s phone reflecting that he twice searched for directions to JOH’s Casa Presidencial in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, after the filings.  Tony Hernández is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Castel on March 30, 2021.  

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FUENTES RAMIREZ, 51, was convicted on three counts:  (1) conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum prison term of life; (2) using and carrying machine guns during, and possessing machine guns in furtherance of, the cocaine-importation conspiracy, which carries a mandatory consecutive prison term of 30 years; and (3) conspiring to use and carry machine guns during, and to possess machine guns in furtherance of, the cocaine-importation conspiracy, which carries a maximum prison term of life.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division Bilateral Investigations Unit, New York Strike Force, and Tegucigalpa Country Office, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Lockard, Jacob H. Gutwillig, Matthew J. Laroche, Jason A. Richman, and Elinor L. Tarlow are in charge of the prosecution.