HomeNewsBriefHonduras Kingpin Accused by US Will Turn Himself In: Reports
BRIEF

Honduras Kingpin Accused by US Will Turn Himself In: Reports

ELITES AND CRIME / 18 OCT 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

An alleged drug trafficker suspected of ties to numerous corrupt officials in Honduras is reportedly preparing to turn himself in, but just where he would be prosecuted remains an unanswered question. 

Citing an unnamed source with close ties to law enforcement, television network HCH reported on October 17, that Wilter Blanco, the alleged leader of the Atlantic Cartel, would turn himself in to authorities "in the next 24 hours."

A spokesperson for the Honduran police, however, dismissed the report.

"We don't see support for that information that came out in the media," the spokesperson told La Prensa. "We are following this case and any information is of utmost importance."

The report from HCH came the same day as a US federal court ordered the unsealing of an indictment charging Blanco with involvement in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy stretching back to at least 1999.

The indictment of Blanco was originally filed on August 5, 2016, but it remained sealed based on prosecutors' belief that keeping it under seal "would assist in arresting the Defendant." However, the prosecution requested that the court unseal the document on October 12, saying, "the Government no longer believes that keeping the Indictment under seal will help with the arrest."

The unsealing of the indictment and the reports of Blanco's impending surrender come just over a week after the US Embassy in Honduras made the extraordinary announcement that Blanco was under investigation for drug trafficking and corruption along with several other suspects, including members of the Honduran armed forces.

In addition, local media outlets have reported that mayors, members of congress, judges, business owners and police officers in Honduras are also being investigated for suspected corruption tied to Blanco's alleged drug trafficking network, though this has not been officially confirmed.

Perhaps most explosively, US authorities appear to suspect that Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernández, the brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, is also involved in drug trafficking activities. A US embassy official who requested anonymity recently told InSight Crime that Tony Hernández is a "person of interest." 

As of this writing, it does not appear that Blanco has handed himself over to authorities, nor has HCH's report been independently confirmed.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Blanco may turn himself in, it is not clear who will prosecute him. Undoubtedly, US authorities would seek his extradition, especially given the amount of information he may have on other suspects, including political and economic elites in Honduras. 

But an Attorney General's Office prosecutor told InSight Crime that Blanco is facing money laundering charges in Honduras and according to Honduran law, he would have to finish his case in country prior to being extradited.

Given the pressure Blanco is facing in Honduras, it is possible that he may opt to negotiate his surrender in a third country. There is a precedent for this type of maneuver. Following increased pressure from the United States, the leaders of the Cachiros criminal group surrendered in early 2015 to US law enforcement. Local press reports subsequently suggested that the suspects were seeking benefits for their family members in exchange for providing information to US authorities, as well as a safe landing for themselves; one of their key associates had been murdered just days prior to their surrender.

Within months of the Cachiros' surrender, the United States brought drug trafficking and money laundering charges against members of one of Honduras' wealthiest and most politically powerful families, the Rosenthals, who were linked to the Cachiros' operations.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extradition

Other Honduran suspects in US custody already appear to have provided information related to the Blanco case. According to local media reports, five police officers extradited to the United States in July to face drug and arms trafficking charges have provided such information.

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

HONDURAS / 5 JUN 2017

Authorities in Honduras are investigating whether a recently captured alleged gang member escaped from prison unnoticed by swapping his identity…

ELITES AND CRIME / 12 SEP 2017

In a huge shift of momentum, Guatemala's congress has voted to retain President Jimmy Morales' immunity in the face…

ARGENTINA / 31 OCT 2014

A report on the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner looks at three scandals involving corruption, money laundering, and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.