In a landmark case, Honduras and the United States have collaborated in swiftly extraditing and convicting a member of the infamous Los Valle drug clan. However, it is uncertain whether this type of cooperation will continue.
Jose Inocente Valle and his wife Marlen Griselda Amaya pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in a US court, reported La Prensa. The pair were sentenced to 10 and six years in prison, respectively.
Inocente Valle and his wife received lighter sentences as part of a deal with US officials, his lawyer Omar Dubon was quoted as saying. "This doesn't mean they are giving up people, but [drug trafficking] routes," Dubon added.
According to Dubon, Inocente Valle's sentence was also a reflection of his minor role in the Valles' drug trafficking operations.
SEE ALSO: Los Valle News Coverage
Inocente Valle's brothers, Miguel Arnulfo and Luis Alonso Valle Valle are also expected to plead guilty in US courts on January 14, reported El Libertador.
InSight Crime Analysis
The capture and extradition of the Valle brothers marked a new level of cooperation between Honduras and the United States. Unlike countries such as Colombia, until recently Honduras did not extradite suspected criminals to the United States as part of its drug policy. However, the Valle brothers were captured in late 2014, extradited shortly afterwards, and will likely all be sentenced in early 2016.
The relatively short amount of time that the Valles will apparently spend in US custody before being sentenced could have several important ramifications. First and foremost, it could make it easier for US authorities to take short-term action, based on any intelligence that the Valles give to the US regarding Central American drug trafficking. During their heyday, the Valles were major players in the region's drug trade, especially in western Honduras. The group corrupted many local officials and were also thought to be working with Mexico's powerful Sinaloa Cartel.
SEE ALSO: Elites and Organized Crime Coverage
Although Dubon claimed that Inocente Valle did not name any names, the Honduran elites that cooperated with the Valles may yet have additional reason to worry, particulary if Inocente Valle's brothers also decide to cooperate.
While this appears to be a victory against organized crime in the short-term, it is uncertain whether this level of cooperation between Honduras and the United States will continue through 2016. It may be that cases like the Valles -- or that involving Honduras' influential Rosenthal family -- are one-time events, rather than representing the beginning of a string of such investigations.