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Alleged Honduran Drug Trafficker Linked to Vast Corporate Network Operating in Various Industries

08/14/20 9 minute read
An alleged Honduran drug trafficker arrested by U.S. authorities in March is connected to a vast corporate network spanning multiple industries in Honduras, according to public records.

The companies purportedly operate in several key Honduran economic sectors, including the agriculture, forestry, and textile industries, among others. Corporate records also suggest that the alleged trafficker, through two business associates, has connections to other trafficking networks.

An alleged Honduran drug baron arrested in Miami

In March, U.S. authorities announced the arrest in Miami of Honduran national Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramírez. U.S. prosecutors have charged Fuentes with three counts related to drug trafficking and weapons possession.

Fuentes’s alleged involvement in the Honduran drug trade runs deep, according to details provided in an affidavit by Ravi Baldeo, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He and others allegedly received “multi-ton” shipments of cocaine from Colombia via air and maritime routes, and oversaw its transport northwest to the Guatemalan border.

In 2009, Fuentes set up a cocaine production laboratory in the northwest Honduran department of Cortés, according to the complaint.

Fuentes allegedly used a combination of bribes and violence to facilitate the safe passage of cocaine. He bribed high ranking public officials, including members of the Honduran National Congress and National Police, according to U.S. prosecutors. Additionally, following a law enforcement raid on his cocaine laboratory in 2012, Fuentes “participated in the stabbing murder of a law enforcement official who Fuentes Ramirez believed to have been involved in the investigation of the laboratory,” according to the Department of Justice press release.

In one notable case in 2013, Fuentes allegedly doled out a $25,000 bribe to co-conspirator 4 (CC-4), “on the understanding that CC-4 would facilitate protection for Fuentes Ramirez from law enforcement scrutiny.” While not directly named in the complaint, CC-4 refers to Juan Orlando Hernández, the current president of Honduras. Prior to becoming president, Hernández served as the president of the National Congress from 2010 to 2014.

Hernández reportedly expressed interest in “access” to Fuentes’s cocaine laboratory, “because of its proximity to a port in Honduras,” according to the complaint. And he allegedly instructed Fuentes to report directly to his brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández Alvarado, “for purposes of drug trafficking.”

Tony Hernández, who himself was a former Honduran congressman and has been dubbed a “large-scale drug trafficker” by U.S. authorities, was convicted of charges related to drug trafficking, possession of firearms, and making false statements, in U.S. federal court in October 2019.

Fuentes’s corporate network in Honduras

Fuentes maintains a significant corporate footprint in Honduras that transcends different economic sectors, including agriculture, forestry, textiles, among others. He is linked to at least nine companies in the Cortés department, serving as a shareholder, manager, legal representative, or having power of attorney, according to corporate records from the Cortés Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIC).

While these businesses may have served as vehicles to launder the proceeds of Fuentes’s alleged illicit activities, they also provide insight into his connections to other prominent drug trafficking clans.

Fig. 1) The corporate network of Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez.

Fuentes is linked to at least three companies whose purported business purpose is related to the textile industry: Kasa Apparel S. de R.L., Maquilas Part’s S. de R.L., and Recicladora de Desperdicios Textiles, Plásticos y Cartón, S. de R.L. (Redestex).

Additionally, he is connected to five companies that operate in the agricultural and/or forestry sectors: Exportadora Forestal Fuentes, S.A. de C.V.; Inversiones y Comercializaciones PF, S.A. de C.V.; Agroforestal Fuentes, S. de R.L. de C.V.; Agroindustrias Potrerillos, S.A. de C.V; and Agroforestal Fuentes Contreras, S. de R.L.

Finally, Fuentes is listed as a 13 percent shareholder and alternate director (director suplente) of Ever Green S.A, an import/export company.

Indirect corporate links to Honduran trafficking clans

Fuentes also has indirect corporate links to other Honduran drug trafficking clans. Through a shared business associate, Fuentes is linked to the brother of Amílcar Alexander Ardón Soriano, a former mayor and confessed drug trafficker. He is also connected via another shared business associate to Javier Enrique Sosa, a Honduran national arrested in 2013 with 1.5 kilos of cocaine after returning from Colombia.

Connections to the Ardón Soriano network

The minority shareholder of Agroforestal Fuentes Contreras is a Honduran national by the name of Rony Nolberto Contreras Espinoza. Contreras was also the founding co-shareholder of Redestex, the aforementioned textile recycling company, along with Fuentes. While neither individuals appear to currently own Redestex, both of them have power of attorney, and Fuentes is listed as a general manager, according to the CCIC.

Contreras also appeared as the founding co-shareholder of a construction firm — Constructores y Contratistas San Miguel, S. de R.L. At the time of incorporation in 2005, the other two shareholders listed were Elder Nahun Espinoza Carranza and Hugo Alfredo Ardón Soriano.

Ardón served as the head of the now-defunct Fondo Vial, a public body responsible for maintaining roads in Honduras, from 2010 to 2015. Fondo Vial has been associated with high-level corruption; the body reportedly awarded lucrative contracts to companies linked to the famed Cachiros drug trafficking organization, according to InSight Crime, an investigative outlet that researches organized crime in Latin America.

Hugo Ardón is also the brother of Amílcar Ardón, the aforementioned former mayor and confessed drug trafficker. U.S. federal prosecutors indicted Amílcar in January 2019 on drug trafficking and weapons charges after he turned himself in to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Guatemala in February of the previous year. Amílcar was a key witness in the trial of Tony Hernández in October 2019.

Together, the two brothers reportedly formed their own drug trafficking clan called the “AA Brothers Cartel” (Cártel de los hermanos AA), and purportedly controlled trafficking routes in the western departments of Copán and Ocotepeque, along the Guatemalan border, according to local media. Amílcar also maintained close ties with Tony Hernández, and even contributed $1.5 million to Juan Orlando Hernández’s 2013 presidential election campaign, according to U.S prosecutors.

Links to lesser known alleged Honduran drug traffickers

Fuentes’s corporate connections to known or alleged drug traffickers do not end there.

Less than a month before Fuentes’s March arrest by DEA agents at the Miami International Airport, he was given power of attorney for a timber company based in the municipality of Choloma, Cortés — Inversiones y Comercializaciones PF, S.A. de C.V. At the time of incorporation in September 2019, the company listed two shareholders, each holding a 50 percent stake: Erick Roberto Murillo Bonilla and María Eugenia Pérez Gutiérrez, according to corporate records from the CCIC.

Pérez is also a 50 percent shareholder of an import/export company — Inversiones y Representaciones Lemaj, S.A. de C.V. — along with an individual named Javier Enrique Sosa. As previously mentioned, Sosa was arrested in Aug 2013 at the Ramon Villeda Morales International Airport in San Pedro Sula, the capital of the Cortés department, with 1.5 kilos of cocaine, after returning from Colombia.

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