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Narco testifies he gave $100,000 to Honduran candidates in 2009

Juan Antonio Hernandez, brother of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez, arrives for a press conference in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on March 16, 2017.

FERNANDO ANTONIO/AP

By CLAUDIA TORRENS | Associated Press | Published: October 4, 2019

NEW YORK — A Honduran drug trafficker gave more details Friday about campaign contributions he says he gave to the current and former presidents of the Central American nation — money he says was channeled through the brother of now-President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Víctor Hugo Díaz Morales testified that he gave co-defendant Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernández $100,000 in 2009 for a congressional race by the suspect's brother as well as the campaign of eventual President Porfirio Lobo.

Díaz said Tony Hernández told him the payment would guarantee better information about police investigations and provide connections with the police and military to enable them to move cocaine through Honduras without government interference.

"The information would be much bigger and much more important," Díaz said Hernández told him. But Díaz said Hernández was not just providing information and protection. Tony Hernández, a congressman himself, was producing and selling his own brand of cocaine, he said.

Prosecutors labeled Juan Orlando Hernández a co-conspirator in his brother's case and said he received at least $1.5 million from traffickers for his 2013 presidential campaign. Hernández denies those allegations and hasn't been charged.

Lobo said Friday he had never met Díaz, much less taken money from him. Lobo's son, Fabio, was sentenced in the U.S. to 24 years in prison in 2017 for drug trafficking. Former first lady Rosa Elena Bonilla was sentenced to 58 years in prison for embezzling government funds while Lobo was president.

Díaz had testified that assistance from Hernández had allowed him to move more than 140 tons of U.S.-bound cocaine through Honduras between 2004 and 2016.

After the $100,000 payment, Díaz said he asked Tony Hernández in 2010 if his brother needed more funding for his political career. Tony Hernández told him that he was all set, because he now had the backing of Alexander Ardon, a former mayor of El Paraíso, and drug trafficking brothers Devis Leonel and Javier Rivera Maradiaga.

Later that year, Tony Hernández told Díaz that his brother was going to run for president. If he won, "he would hold all the power in Honduras and there would be no problem moving cocaine through Honduran territory," Díaz said Hernández promised.

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AP writer Marlon González in Tegucigalpa, Honduras contributed to this report.
 

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