The US Southern District Court of New York convicted Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez, a Honduran national, of drug trafficking on Monday. Fuentes Ramirez was convicted on cocaine-importation and two weapons charges.
Fuentes Ramirez will be formally sentenced on June 22, 2021. Conspiracy to transport cocaine carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. The two weapons charges carry sentences ranging from 30 years to life.
According to the evidence presented at his trial, Fuentes Ramirez helped establish and then operate a cocaine laboratory sometime in or around 2009. The cocaine produced there was then transported with the aid of Honduran police and military personnel. In 2013, Fuentes Ramirez began working with President Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado of Honduras. Reportedly, Hernandez Alvarado wanted to transport the cocaine to the United States. Fuentes Ramirez was arrested in Florida on March 1, 2020 while attempting to leave the United States.
Additionally, Fuentes Ramirez allegedly paid bribes to Hernandez Alvarado. At the end of the trial, the prosecution, led by Assistant US Attorney Michael Lockard, argued that Fuentes Ramirez paid the bribes to Hernandez Alvarado in 2019. The testimony of an accountant had Fuentes Ramirez paying bribes to Hernandez Alvarado in 2013. Hernandez Alvarado became the President of Honduras in 2014. Whether or not Hernandez Alvarado has any involvement in drug trafficking is hotly contested. He has repeatedly denied the accusations.
Drug trafficking and related violence has created consequences beyond shipments of cocaine to the US. The largest number of child migrants that reached the US border in 2014 came from Honduras. For years, the US has poured money into Honduras in attempt to resolve the drug trafficking and migrant crises by targeting the cause. Critics of the plan argue that due to handling, the aid has best done little and at worst supported corrupt officials.