The son of former Honduras president Porfirio Lobo Sosa has pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in the United States, a move that could signal his willingness to provide information to US authorities in exchange for legal benefits.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced on May 16 that Fabio Porfirio Lobo had admitted to conspiring to import more than five kilograms of cocaine into the United States.
The indictment of Fabio Lobo alleges that the drug trafficking conspiracy lasted from approximately 2009 to July 2014. Fabio’s father Porfirio served as president of Honduras from January 2010 to January 2014.
According to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office, Fabio agreed in 2014 to assist two confidential sources posing as Mexican drug traffickers with transporting cocaine destined for the United States through Honduras.
The press release also states that Fabio introduced the confidential sources to “Honduran police officials who agreed to participate in the cocaine transaction by providing security and logistical support.”
The US Attorney’s Office said email and phone records show that Fabio agreed to travel to Haiti in 2015 to accept payment for the cocaine deal. But instead, he was arrested in an apparent sting operation and subsequently extradited to the United States.
Fabio faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September 15 of this year.
InSight Crime Analysis
A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office told InSight Crime that Fabio Lobo “pled guilty on his own accord in open court,” but court records accessed by InSight Crime suggest the possibility that Fabio’s defense team has been negotiating some sort of plea agreement with prosecutors.
A March 21 letter from Fabio’s attorney Manuel Retureta asked the judge handling the case for “additional time for the parties to continue discussing case resolution short of trial.” Previously, Fabio had said he was “open to negotiate with the government anything,” according to a January 19 court transcript reviewed by Courthouse News Service.
If a plea agreement does exist, or if one is being negotiated, it would likely require Fabio to provide information on other suspects under investigation by US authorities. The former president's son has been linked to the Cachiros, which were once one of Honduras' most powerful drug trafficking organizations. But the leaders of the Cachiros are already in US custody, so it is unclear how useful Fabio's connections to the group could be to US authorities.
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Notably, several members of the Lobo family have previously been linked to criminal actors, including Porfirio Lobo, who once posed for a photo with the now-deceased drug trafficker José Natividad "Chepe" Luna.
Porfirio, however, has denied involvement in criminal activity.
"My career will never be marred by illicit acts. Honesty, integrity and rectitude characterize me where ever I am," the former president wrote on his Facebook page in late March, after unconfirmed rumors began to circulate that he was facing drug charges in the US.
The Lobo family does not appear to have commented publicly on Fabio's recent decision to plead guilty. However, after Fabio’s arrest last year, his father Porfirio told local media outlets, “If he is guilty, he has to answer to the law.”
The most recent message posted on the former president’s Twitter account, from August 21, 2015, reads: “Nadie está encima por la ley” -- “No one is above the law.”