Former Honduras President Porfirio Lobo

One of the leaders of Honduran drug trafficking network the Cachiros has testified in court that he repeatedly bribed former President Porfirio Lobo, adding to the evidence suggesting drug traffickers corrupted Honduras' state institutions at the highest levels.

Testifying in the drug trafficking case of Lobo's son Fabio, Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga told a New York court that he made his first payment of between $250,000 and $300,000 to Lobo when the politician was running for president in 2009, reported La Prensa. This was followed by at least two more bribes delivered directly to the president, Rivera said.

The confessed drug trafficker testified that he later attended a meeting with Lobo after the election in which the president promised never to extradite Rivera and his associates and encouraged them to set up businesses that could be awarded government contracts, which they could then use to fund their political bribes.

According to Rivera's testimony, then-President Lobo placed his son Fabio in charge of coordinating with the traffickers. Rivera alleged that Fabio Lobo personally assisted with security arrangements for two especially large cocaine shipments, and that for one of those shipments, the younger Lobo charged an extra $50,000 to pay off "the boss" -- allegedly referring to current security minister and security advisor during the Lobo administration, retired General Julián Pacheco Tinoco.

Rivera added that such political contacts, along with corrupt contacts in the police and military, helped the Cachiros establish themselves as one of Honduras' principal drug trafficking networks and move tons of cocaine through the country.

In addition, Rivera testified about the 2009 murder of Julián Arístides González, then head of Honduras' Office to Fight Drug Trafficking (Dirección de Lucha Contra el Narcotráfico - DLCN). Rivera claimed he had attended a meeting with other traffickers and at least one current congressmen in which they decided to pay a group of policeman to assassinate Arístides.

Porfirio Lobo fiercely denied all of the accusations, telling AFP he had never associated with or received any money from criminals.

The Security Ministry also released a statement denying Rivera's "ill-intentioned and baseless" accusations, which the ministry claimed he made in order to receive judicial benefits, reported El Heraldo.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rivera's claims have yet to be independently verified, but they are not the first time Lobo has faced accusations of connections to organized crime. Last year, questions over Lobo's murky ties surfaced after the emergence of a photo showing him with murdered crime boss José Natividad "Chepe" Luna

While the guilt or innocence of major political figures such as those Rivera named remains undetermined, his allegeations add to a growing body of evidence that makes it clear that the rise of networks such as the Cachiros and the increased importance of Honduras as a drug transit nation is directly connected to organized crime's ability to coopt and corrupt the country's institutions.

SEE ALSO: Honduras Elites and Organized Crime

In addition, it is clear that this descent into security chaos coincided with the period following the 2009 coup against then Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, when Lobo and his political allies emerged as the country's new rulers.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...