HomeNewsBriefWill Convicted Drug Money Launderer Run for President in Honduras?
BRIEF

Will Convicted Drug Money Launderer Run for President in Honduras?

CACHIROS / 7 AUG 2020 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

A powerful business tycoon jailed in the United States for laundering drug money may soon be a presidential candidate in Honduras following his release this month.

At least 14 lawmakers from the opposition Liberal Party are reportedly urging Yani Rosenthal to run for president when he returns to the Central America nation on August 7, according to Criterio. One of them, Juan Carlos Ávila, said they believe Rosenthal is the “only one” able to unite the political opposition ahead of the 2021 general election.

Rosenthal, a former politician and presidential candidate in 2009 and 2013, comes from one of Honduras’ most wealthy and politically-connected families. In July 2017, he pleaded guilty to laundering drug money for the notorious Cachiros criminal clan, for which he was handed a three-year prison term in the United States as part of a plea agreement.

As one US attorney put it, Rosenthal “moonlighted as a money launderer for a ruthlessly violent drug trafficking organization.”

SEE ALSO: How Elites and Narcos Do Business, Politics in Honduras

The Rosenthal family has longstanding connections to both politics and organized crime.

Yani’s father, Jaime, had established the family's relationship with criminal groups long before he died in 2019. Himself a former vice president and major business figure, Jaime sold cattle and land to “clients” such as the Cachiros' Rivera Maradiaga family, which were purchased with drug proceeds, according to documents included in the US drug trafficking trial of Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, the former congressman and brother of President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Yani’s cousin, former investment minister Yankel Rosenthal, also admitted in 2017 to having helped drug traffickers launder money through the “purchase of US real estate, political contributions in Honduras, and even investment in a professional soccer team,” according to the Justice Department.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned all three Rosenthal men in 2015 and added them to the agency’s list of “Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers.”

InSight Crime Analysis

Latin America is rife with cases that show how political elites are interconnected with organized crime. The current political landscape in Honduras may be the most flagrant example today.

The sitting president, Juan Orlando Hernández of the National Party, has ties to corruption networks and is an alleged co-conspirator in an international drug trafficking conspiracy directed by his brother, which included the Cachiros.

What's more, the National Party's likely pick to succeed Hernández, Mauricio Oliva Herrera, has also been tied to the Cachiros through a number of properties he allegedly acquired from a shady business associate.

SEE ALSO: Narco-Politics Cast Shadow on Honduran Presidents

Before President Hernández took office, the National Party’s Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo allegedly handed out state contracts to Cachiros members during his time as president. In addition, his son, Fabio Lobo, was hit with a 24-year prison sentence in 2017 for the “huge quantities” of cocaine he trafficked alongside the Cachiros, all while using his father’s political connections for protection.

Yet, the opposition Liberal Party seems committed to rallying support behind a man who has openly admitted to laundering drug money for the Cachiros, one of the country’s most infamous crime groups.

Whether or not Yani ends up running, the fact that he has secured the backing of over a dozen lawmakers before even returning to the country after having been jailed is damning evidence of the depth of narco-politics in Honduras.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BARRIO 18 / 8 FEB 2017

It's happening in the streets, in the communities still controlled by gangs, and in the segregated prisons. It's a phenomenon…

EL LOCO BARRERA / 10 MAR 2011

InSight has long been skeptical of rumors concerning cocaine hydrochloride (HCl) labs operating in Central America. But this week Honduran…

COLOMBIA / 4 DEC 2014

As Transparency International publishes its annual rankings on corruption, InSight Crime looks at how corruption is impacted in Latin America…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…