Following a case that shook up the Honduras elite, the son of the country's former president was sentenced on September 5 to 24 years in a United States penitentiary for drug trafficking.
Fabio Lobo, the son of former Honduras President Porfirio Lobo, had pleaded guilty on May 16, 2016, to conspiring to import cocaine.
"By his own admission, Fabio Lobo conspired to import huge quantities of cocaine into the US," Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement. "To assist traffickers and enrich himself, Lobo used his father's position and his own connections to bring drug traffickers together with corrupt police and government officials. Now, Fabio Lobo has been sentenced to the substantial prison term his crimes merit."
Lobo, the statement adds, "used his and his father's reputation and political network to broker corrupt connections between large-scale Honduran drug traffickers and individuals within the Honduran government, including high-level officials such as sitting Honduran congressmen as well as customs, military, and law enforcement personnel."
SEE ALSO: Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros
The incredible case culminated with incredible testimony during Lobo's sentencing hearings by Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, a member of the Cachiros criminal organization. Rivera Maradiaga detailed the way he and Lobo worked together to move cocaine and the relationship the Cachiros cultivated with the Lobo presidency, including the then-president himself.
Fabio Lobo fancied himself as a fixer, but what he did not foresee was that the Cachiros were ready to negotiate their own deals with the US government. After turning themselves in to US authorities, the Cachiros became cooperating witnesses. Lobo was lured to Haiti for what he thought was a drug deal. Instead, he was captured, deported to face trial, convicted, and now, sentenced to jail.
InSight Crime Analysis
Lobo is just the tip of the iceberg. As detailed in Rivera Maradiaga's testimony, the reach of criminal organizations like the Cachiros touched the presidency.
In addition to his contact with the Cachiros, President Lobo was also in contact with José Natividad "Chepe" Luna, a Salvadoran drug trafficker based in Honduras. Luna was later assassinated.
Lobo has denied any connections to drug traffickers, and his lawyer reiterated those assertions this week following the sentencing of his son.*
"There is no proof," attorney Brian H. Bieber told La Prensa.
SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles
Other elites have also faced scrutiny and charges, most notably members of the Rosenthal clan. The business behemoth and political juggernaut Jaime Rosenthal Oliva, his son Yani Rosenthal, his nephew Yankel Rosenthal, and one of their family lawyers were accused by US prosecutors of money laundering, presumably also for the Cachiros, among other criminal groups. Yani and Yankel have both pleaded guilty to the charges.
*This story was updated September 7, with a comment from the lawyer of Porfirio Lobo.