HomeNewsBriefHonduran Kingpin's Plea Agreement May Have Damning Consequences
BRIEF

Honduran Kingpin's Plea Agreement May Have Damning Consequences

ELITES AND CRIME / 23 AUG 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

InSight Crime has uncovered new details about a plea agreement between US federal prosecutors and Wilter Neptalí Blanco Ruíz, the alleged leader of one of Honduras' most notorious drug trafficking groups, raising questions about what information the fallen kingpin may provide to authorities.

On August 17, Blanco, the purported leader of the Atlantic Cartel, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a US federal court in Miami, after he agreed to plead guilty to one drug charge, according to court records

Blanco was indicted by US authorities on August 5, 2016 for conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine knowing that it would be imported into the United States. He pleaded guilty to the charge on July 2, 2017.

SEE ALSO: Atlantic Cartel Profile 

As part of the plea agreement with US authorities, Blanco has agreed to provide information on his role as the "leader" of an organization that received cocaine in Honduras from Colombia and adjoining countries, which was then resold and sent north to Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, according to the court documents

Specifically, the deal focuses on two shipments that occurred in January and February 2015 that Blanco was allegedly present for and supervised, one involving 800 kilograms and the other over 1 ton of cocaine. 

In October 2016, Blanco was reportedly preparing to turn himself in to US authorities. However, he was arrested a month later near Costa Rica's capital city of San José in a joint operation between Costa Rican, Honduran and US authorities. He was extradited to the United States directly from Costa Rica.

Blanco also faces money laundering charges in Honduras. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

Blanco was a long-time player in Honduras' drug trade as the leader of the Atlantic Cartel, and given his criminal group's alleged connections with high-ranking military officials, police and politicians, it is possible that he could have a lot of information to provide US authorities. 

According to court documents, Blanco has allegedly been involved in drug trafficking since 1999. And by 2016, the United States was reportedly investigating more than 30 Honduran elites -- among them mayors, congressional representatives, judges, active military officials and police officers -- for suspected ties to Blanco's Atlantic Cartel. 

SEE ALSO: Honduras Elites and Organized Crime

Moreover, Blanco was allegedly the one who paid Honduran police forces to carry out the murder of former Honduras drug czar Julián Arístides González Irías in December 2009. But Blanco's reach extended outside of Honduras as well. According to press reports, the Atlantic Cartel has also been linked to a prominent member of the Cartel of the Suns, a Venezuelan drug trafficking organization made up of military personnel. 

While not much remains of the Atlantic Cartel, the information Blanco may provide to US authorities could be the final nail in the coffin for the group, while also potentially impacting broader criminal dynamics in the region.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 30 MAR 2015

Marllory Chacon Rossell pleaded guilty on December 12, 2014 to drug trafficking charges in Miami, but she had been collaborating…

HONDURAS / 16 SEP 2011

The Honduran Congress softened new taxes intended to fund the fight against soaring violence and organized crime in the country,…

BARRIO 18 / 11 OCT 2018

The former leftist guerrilla and ex-congressman Raúl Mijango is jailed and facing 20 years in prison for extortion -- one…

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…