First witness against Juan Orlando Hernández, former president of Honduras, directly links him to drug trafficking – La Opinión

First witness against Juan Orlando Hernández, former president of Honduras, directly links him to drug trafficking – La Opinión

NEW YORK.- The first witness in the trial of the former president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernándezis José Sánchez, the accountant of one of the former president’s partners, who in addition to recounting Hernández’s corruption structure connects him directly with the drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez, who is convicted in the United States.

The witness was not presented in court under his real name, due to security issues, and since it is not possible to take photographs of him, his potential enemies would not be able to easily identify him.

Sánchez revealed that he worked for 15 years in the rice company Graneros Nacionales de Fuad Jarufein the city of Choloma, Honduras, where former President Hernández constantly met with his partner to receive money from drug trafficking, as well as plan protection for criminals.

The witness said that in a first meeting he heard the former Honduran president tell Jarufe: “Together we are going to put drugs under the gringos’ noses.”

Jarufe laundered money for the Honduran cartel Los Cachiros, as well as for Geovanny Fuentes Ramírez, whom Sánchez fully identified through photographs shown by the prosecutor. Previously, the witness fully identified former President Hernández, also known as “JOH.”

Despite the constant objections of Raymond Colón, one of the defense lawyers, the witness had to answer if he knew the accused, if he knew what he was talking about with his former boss, where the money came from and what the former president did for criminals.

“Objection!” Colón shouted when the witness was asked if he knew Julio Cesar Barahona, president of the Honduran Judiciary. “Yes,” said Sánchez, and then pointed out that Barahona placed himself under the orders of the drug traffickers, at the request of JOH.

Sánchez’s testimony gave an account of the actions of the former president of Honduras from before he was president of Congress, in 2010 – when he was able to influence the appointment of Barahona – until his two presidential terms, whose campaigns would have been financed with money from drug trafficking.

“JOH,” who traveled to Choloma with military surveillance and sometimes in a military helicopter, was given money directly, either in dollars or checks made out to other people, the accountant said.

From the narration of the protected witness, it stands out that he does not recount facts that someone shared with him, but rather that he was part of the meetings between his then boss Jarufe and former President Hernández, in addition to Fuentes Ramirez.

Prosecutor Jacob Wutwillig guided the witness with questions that established the location, dates and details of the meetings, even a detailed description of the office where they occurred, where Sánchez was even asked by former President Hernández to put a check in his name, but he refused.

Former President Hernández planned to stay in power for decades: “Can you imagine 50 years in power?” he reportedly asked his partner Jarufe. That meant the same years of drug dealing.

Hernández faces three charges in the Southern District Court of New York: conspiracy to import cocaine; possession of machine guns and destructive devices, and conspiracy to possess machine guns and destructive devices.

The former president listened attentively, dressed in a dark suit, with his back to the audience, constantly taking notes.

IMG 0858
The trial of Juan Orlando Hernández takes place in the Southern District Court of New York.
Credit: JESÚS GARCÍA | Impremedia

The two Hernándezes and the defense reject evidence

At the opening of arguments in the trial of former President Hernández, Prosecutor David Robles pointed out that the former president had two fronts: one as president and another as a drug trafficker.

“This case is about power, corruption and a massive amount of drugs”Robles said. “For years he even worked hand in hand with drug traffickers to the United States.”

In exchange, Hernández offered military, police and court protection, to avoid the arrest of his drug trafficking partners and even extraditions.

“He dealt with the United States against drugs… but behind the scenes he worked with drug traffickers.”

Lawyer Renato Stabile was responsible for opening the case in favor of former President Hernández, using a phrase from William Shakespeare: “Hell is empty, all the demons are here.”

He criticized prosecutors for building a case against the former president based on witnesses, whom he described as criminals seeking a benefit in exchange for their cooperation.

“[Los cooperantes vienen] for the golden ticket,” said Stabile, referring to the 5K letter that prosecutors must deliver if they consider that the witness collaborated enough for the case and others.

There are no photos, there are no videos, there are no audios, there are no documents, there are no bank accounts, the lawyer said.

It may interest you:
• Former president of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández was extradited to the US where he is accused of drug trafficking
• Juan Orlando Hernández: Supreme Court of Honduras ratifies the extradition to the US of the former president
• Why the US requested the extradition of the former president of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández

Spread the love