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Drug trafficker says he bribed Honduras president

•  State Bar News     updated  2021/03/11 10:55


A convicted Honduran drug trafficker and former leader of a cartel testified in United States federal court Thursday that he paid now-President Juan Orlando Hernandez $250,000 for protection from arrest in 2012.

Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, former leader of the Cachiros cartel, testified that he made the payment in cash through one of Hernandez’s sisters, Hilda Hernandez, in exchange “for protection so that the military police and preventive police didn’t capture us in Honduras.”

He said he also paid so that he wouldn’t be extradited to the U.S. and so companies used by the Cachiros to launder money would be favored by the government. Rivera Maradiaga has admitted to being involved in 78 murders.

At the time of the alleged bribe, Juan Orlando Hernandez was leader of Honduras’ Congress, but had begun angling for the presidency, which he won in 2013. He took office the following January. Hilda Hernandez, who later served in his administration, died in a helicopter crash in 2017.

The accusation came in the third day of testimony in the trial of alleged drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez. U.S. prosecutors have made it clear that allegations against President Hernandez would arise during the trial, though he has not been charged.

Fuentes Ramirez was arrested in March 2020 in Florida. He is charged with drug trafficking and arms possession.

Hernandez has vehemently denied any connection to drug traffickers. One of his brothers, Juan Antonio Hernandez, was convicted of drug trafficking in the same court in 2019.

During that trial, the president was accused of accepting more than $1 million from Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

U.S. prosecutors have alleged that much of Hernandez’s political rise was funded by drug traffickers who paid to be allowed to move drugs through Honduras without interference.

In January, U.S. federal prosecutors filed motions in the Fuentes Ramirez case saying that Hernandez took bribes from drug traffickers and had the country’s armed forces protect a cocaine laboratory and shipments to the United States.

The documents quote Hernandez ? identified as co-conspirator 4 ? as saying he wanted to “‘shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos’ by flooding the United States with cocaine.”

This week, Hernandez has said in a series of Twitter messages that the witnesses in New York are seeking to lighten their sentences by making up lies against him.



After being reinstated by the nation’s Supreme Court, Nepal’s Parliament began a session on Sunday that will likely determine the future of the prime minister and the government.

The split in the ruling Nepal Communist Party has left Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli without the majority of votes in Parliament required for him to continue in office. Oli so far has refused to step down and is determined to continue.

A vote of no confidence against Oli is likely to be brought by the splinter group from his own party, which would force him to step down. The group has not yet made a formal decision.

Oli would have to get the support of other political parties in Parliament in order to stay in power. The process could take days, leaving an unstable political situation in the country.

Oli had the president dissolve Parliament in December and announce fresh elections after the rift in the party. Last month, the Supreme Court ordered the reinstatement of Parliament in response to several cases filed with the court charging that Oli’s decision to dissolve the legislature was unconstitutional.

Since Parliament’s dissolution, there have been regular street protests against Oli by tens of thousands of people in Kathmandu and other cities.

Oli became prime minister after the party won elections three years ago. His party and that of former Maoist rebels had merged to form a strong Communist party to win the elections.

However, there has been a power struggle between Oli and the leader of the former Maoists rebels, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is also co-chair of the party. The two had previously agreed that they would split the five-year prime minister’s term, but Oli has refused to allow Dahal to take over.




The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona in a key case that could make it harder to challenge a raft of other voting measures Republicans have proposed following last year’s elections.

All six conservative justices, appointed by Republican presidents, suggested they would throw out an appellate ruling that struck down the restrictions as racially discriminatory under the landmark Voting Rights Act. The three liberal members of the courts, appointed by Democrats, were more sympathetic to the challengers.

Less clear is what standard the court might set for how to prove discrimination under the law, first enacted in 1965.  The outcome could make it harder, if not impossible, to use the Voting Rights Act to sue over measures making their way through dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures that would make it more difficult to vote.

Civil rights group and Democrats, argue that the proposed restrictions would disproportionately affect minority voters, important Democratic constituencies.

Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have proposed national legislation that would remove obstacles to voting erected in the name of election security.



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