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In Honduras Trial US Uses Witness Who Shot Wife In Face But Paid Bribes To Hernandez Brothers

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon, Thread
The Source - XXL - The Root - etc

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 4 – The prosecution of the brother of Honduras' president for guns and drug running began with a bang on October 2 with the charge that already life imprisoned El Chapo Guzman gave the defendant $1 million for this brother, the president. The trial is before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge P. Kevin Castel and Inner City Press is live tweeting it. See also Patreon here on the fast mention and shut-down of Nikki Haley's name.

  On the morning of October 4 Assistant US Attorney Amanda Houle questioned a cooperating witness who along with describing bribes to the Hernandez brothers admitted flatly that he shot his wife in the face. Tony Hernandez' lawyer Omar Malone being his cross examination with just that point. But a 5K1 cooperator's letter seems in the offing. Here's how it went: "Judge Castel joked with the jury about the New York Mets, who fired their manager yesterday, and now the questioning about police and Prez' brother Tony Hernandez continues  AUSA: Did there come a time when Lozano told you he was going to be transferred? Witness: Yes. To Tegucigalpa. I asked Tony Hernandez to help get him transferred there, it was a more important location in terms of cocaine trafficking

AUSA: Did you speak directly to the defendant about the transfer? Witness: Yes. In 2007, I paid him $5,000. AUSA: Did you have any discussions with the defendant about the payment. Witness: Yes, he confirmed to me he had received the payment.

Witness: The defendant Tony Hernandez said he had made the transfer happen by using his contacts in the Tegucigalpa national police headquarters. AUSA: Is that that only time the defendant helped you with police transfers? Witness: No. Also Flores Santos.

 [Flores Santos' photo is entered into evidence as Government Exhibit 109 - as of last night, none of the exhibits available online to the Press yet - have requested.] AUSA: Why did you want him stationed there? Witness: It was the principle route to Guatemala.
Turns out Tony Hernandez was not the only one to put his initials on kilos of cocaine - Ruben Mejia did too: RM, the witness tells jury.  Witness: Ruben Mejia was the owner of a car dealership and a butcher shop too.

 Witness: So we met with Tony Hernandez to talk about how we could get small planes from Colombia to be able to land at clandestine airstrips on Honduras to traffic cocaine. Tony H told us the DEA was training Honduran helicopter pilots on night vision

Witness: the drugs were manufactured in a lab near the border of Colombia and Venezuela owned by Tony H... AUSA: What security was used to transport it? Witness: My workers escorted it to Guatemala. AUSA: Did they carry guns? Witness: Pistols and assault rifles

 AUSA: How much did you pay per kilo of cocaine? Witness: $10,000. AUSA: Did you make any other payments to Tony Hernandez for this? Witness: Yes. $5,000 for police checkpoints. And more for radar. AUSA: What was the destination? Witness: the United States

 AUSA: What did Cinco say about what percentage of that payment should be made in $100 bills? Witness: He said $1.5 million should be in hundred dollars bills. AUSA: Did you meet with Fernando Chang about this shipment? Witness: In San Pedro Sula in my house there

 AUSA: In 2009, did you make any payments to any campaigns? Witness: Yes - to the National Party campaign for Lobo as president and Juan Orlando Hernandez' re-election as Congressman. I have $100,000, from drug profits to which I am devoted

AUSA: Did you discuss that payment with the defendant?  Witness: Yes. He said if Pepe Lobo was elected and Juan Orlando Hernandez was re-elected to Congress we'd have more connection and access to information from the police and army

Judge Castel orders silence in the back of the courtroom, and declares a break. This thread will continue

 Okay, we're back. AUSA Amanda L. Houle is asking witness about his birthday party in 2010: "Did any other drug traffickers attend this party? How many?" Witness: About 10. AUSA: Who's shown in that photo? Witness: Bonilla. AUSA: Government offers Exhibit 104.

 AUSA Houle: What did Tony Hernandez say about Bonilla?  Witness: That Police Officer Bonilla was a man of great trust to Tony and Juan Orlando Hernandez, a man who was very violent and could commit murders.

AUSA: Did the topic of extradition come up?  Witness: Yes. Tony Hernandez said that even if the US Embassy asked for it, it could be slowed down or stopped in the Honduran Supreme Court Inner City Press @innercitypress · 3h Witness: By then, Juan Orlando Hernandez was running for president of the Congress. Tony H told me he was working on bribes with Javier and Lionel Rivera, and with the mayor of El Paradiso...

Witness: Tony Hernandez told me what very few people knew at that time that Juan Orlando Hernandez would be the candidate for the president, and that if he won there would be no problem with narco-trafficking through #Honduras

 The witness had admitted shooting his wife. Will he be getting a 5K1 cooperator's letter? Inquiring minds want to know.
AUSA Houle: What was the $35,000 payment for? Witness: For radar for the drug plane. In the ledgers by then, instead of writing Antonio Hernandez, we'd write Mario Jose

 AUSA Houle: How large was that cocaine shipment? Witness: 500 kilos. Houle: Did you meet anyone named Daniel? Witness: Yes. Daniel Romero a/k/a Daniel Miranda. I met him in 2007 or 2008. He was trafficking cocaine throughout Honduras

 Now as to the witness himself, Houle asks: were you arrested? Witness: Yes, in 2017, in Guatemala City. AUSA: When you began cooperating with the US government, were you honest about your trafficking? Witness: No.

Witness: I was afraid. Tony Hernandez and his brother control everything in Honduras. Now AUSA Houle asking the (wife shooting) witness about his cooperation deal. It will be up to the judge to sentence him. #5K1

Now Omar Malone cross examination. First question to witness: Do you have kid? Biological kids? Witness (after a pause) Yes. Malone: Kids are something extremely important to you? Witness (after another pause) Can you repeat the question?

 Tony H's lawyer Malone asks the witness how much money he made selling 140,000 kilos of coke. Witness seems to say $500 profit per kilo. Malone asks about additional profits from deliveries. Has witness added up his profits? Witness: Can you repeat the question?

 Witness says between 5 and 10 million dollars, that he doesn't have a calculator at hand. Malone: Do you miss the wife that you shot in the face? [This is a Tony Hernandez trial variant on the old "When did you stop beating your wife"]

 Judge Castel has hit pause on Malone's cross examination, calling the lunch break and leaving the bench

  On the afternoon of October 3 Tony Hernandez was described urging $40,000 payments to his brother to get information on how to traffic drugs through Honduras. Here's some of how it went: "US calls its second witness, a DEA agent. He began as a translator then stationed in Imperial, California focusing on Mexican drug cartels. Chapo echo.

 Witness says Tony H urged him to give $40,000 to brother Orlando's campaign in order get info on trafficking coke

AUSA: Have you see the Tommy Hilfiger logo before? Witness: Yes. AUSA: Please publish it for the jury. Sir, have you ever seen a kilo of cocaine marked with the "T.H." stamp? Witness: Si

Photo introduced into evidence in #Honduras / Hernandez trial. AUSA, pointing: Who is that? Witness: It is the Guatemalan Jose Manuel [a/k/a] Che.

AUSA: Between 2007 and 2010, did the defendant provide you information about naval operations? Witness: Yes. AUSA: How much did you pay? Witness: $5000.

 AUSA: Turning your attention to Government Exhibit 500... Witness: There is a Honduran military base. AUSA: Did you pay them bribes? Witness: Yes. So they would keep me informed whether I could bring my cocaine shipment in.

To be continued...

  Earlier on October 3 Detective Miguel Reynoso testified and was cross examined about a car stop and seizure, including of a ledger with Tony Hernandez' name in it. Here's how it went:

Government's first witness in Miguel Reynoso, drug investigator; he's being asked about a vehicle search.  Reynoso identifies a Volkswagen he was ordered to search for drugs. Photo is admitted as Exhibit 351.

AUSA: What are you doing in this picture?  Reynoso: I am examining the motor of the Volkswagen. AUSA: I'd like to enter a stipulation of fact. Judge Castel: OK

Stipulation read in as Exh 1005: On June 6, 2018, police lawfully stopped 2 vehicles in Cortez, Honduras: a Toyota and a Volkswagen. The Honduran anti-drug directorate searched the vehicles and lawfully detained the occupants. One had false ID, of a dead man.

 AUSA: "Detective Reynoso, did you find any hidden compartments?" Yes, under the rear seat. We cut through a recent weld. And we found two grenades.

AUSA: "Detective Reynoso, did you have the opportunity to count the US currency found in the compartment?" Yes - it was $193,200. And there were 9 spiral notebooks. AUSA: We'll come back to those later.

AUSA: "Is there is fair and accurate depiction of cell phones and weapons you found?" Reynoso: Yes. AUSA: Where were they located? Reynoso: There were under the airbag in the dashboard.

 AUSA: Focusing on the middle of these three firearms that you found, what did it have? Reynoso: Apparently, a silencer.  AUSA: And where did you first encounter this 2 way radio? Reynoso: it was under the driver's side floor

 AUSA: Did they come a time when you reviewed the ledgers that you found? Reynoso: Yes. AUSA: Can you please highlight "Tony Hernandez" on the page?

Now the cross-examination of Detective Reynoso. "My name is Mike Tein and I speak for Tony Hernandez... You said it was 90% $20 bills. Now do you think it was less? Reynoso: Most were 20s. Tein: Did you write down the breakdown, of 20s and other denominations?

 Tein (insisting) did you put the count by denomination in your report? Reynoso: Yes. Tein: Who did you count it with? AUSA: Objection - asked and answered. Now a sidebar with the white noise turned up . 

 AUSA: We'll stipulate to the admission of this into evidence. Tein: OK, it's Defendant Exhibit 1. May I ask a few more questions? Judge Castel: Yes. Tein (to Reynoso) Where were you when you wrote this report? Reynoso: In the public office.

 Reynoso: Specifically, we were in the office against narco-traffico in San Pedro Sula. Tein: Were the suspects with you there? Reynoso: In the same building. Tein: Have you received any training in writing reports? You make sure what you're signing is true?

Tony Hernandez' lawyer Tein is hammering away at a seeming 12 hour discrepancy on the signing of Detective Reynoso's report of the cash and guns and ledgers listing... Tony Hernandez. "So you signed it at 3:55 in the morning?" Reynoso: Yes.

 Judge Castel declares a break for the jurors. Then he too walks off the bench. Apparently no lawyers' arguments during this break.

Tein still digging into Detective Reynoso's report. Tein: you write it at the time so you don't have to worry about remembering? [Note: Judge Castel faced just this, on Tuesday in a child porn case]

 Tein: You're saying there's a report that lists out the denominations of the bills? Reynoso: Yes. It must be part of the records. Tein: You don't mean in this case, do you? Reynoso: No, back in Honduras. Tein: so you gave some to SDNY, and some not?

Tein: Do you know how the prosecutors from this District came into possession of some of your reports about the seizure of the Volkswagen? Reynoso: No. Tein: Have you seen a report in this case that actually lists the denominations of the money you seized?

Tein still at it. To Reynoso: Did you put the evidence out of the table like this, bit by bit, or did someone else do it? Why are there armed guards taking a picture? Reynoso:  I don't know. I don't remember.

Tein: Who brought with them the tools to cut into these compartments? Reynoso: We did [nosotros]. Tein: Did you yourself bring the tools? Did you arrive in one car or two? Who did you drive with? I'm not asking you to name him. Reynoso: I drove with my colleague.

AUSA cuts in, asking to shut down Tony Hernandez' cross examination: "The direct was 30 minutes and you've been on this topic for almost two hours." Tein: I have more questions.

 Tein gets to the point: So the ledgers weren't logged in for 13 days after their were seized? Reynoso: Right. Re-direct by AUSA: Did the name Tony Hernandez stand out to you during your review? Reynoso: Yes. The case of Tony Hernandez was well known. No further Questions

 Now Judge Castel calls the lunch break for the jury. Then as with morning break he leaves the bench, no lawyers' arguments.  We will continue.

  Back on October 2 before the explosive opening statements, Inner City Press was in the courtroom as Judge Castel posed questions to prospective jurors. Where do you live? What social media do you use? (Many answers of Facebook and Instagram; a technology executive who said she lives "in the neighborhood" of the courthouse talked about Twitter as well).

 The defendant sat with interpretation headphones on, with the strap not on top of his head but behind his neck. Now he accused of taking money for El Chapo for his brother the president Juan Orlando Hernandez, who was only recently in New York holding a grip and grin with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, linked to other bribery convictions in the SDNY (including Patrick Ho of CEFC China Energy) but benefiting from now from immunity.

  The US Attorney's Office has said: "From at least in or about 2004, up to and including in or about 2016, multiple drug-trafficking organizations in Honduras and elsewhere worked together, and with support from certain prominent public and private individuals, including Honduran politicians and law enforcement officials, to receive multi-ton loads of cocaine sent to Honduras from, among other places, Colombia via air and maritime routes, and to transport the drugs westward in Honduras toward the border with Guatemala and eventually to the United States.  For protection from official interference, and in order to facilitate the safe passage through Honduras of multi-hundred-kilogram loads of cocaine, drug traffickers paid bribes to public officials, including certain members of the National Congress of Honduras. 

HERNANDEZ is a former member of the National Congress of Honduras, the brother of the current president of Honduras, and a large-scale drug trafficker who worked with other drug traffickers in, among other places, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico, to import cocaine into the United States. 

From at least in or about 2004, up to and including in or about 2016, HERNANDEZ was involved in processing, receiving, transporting, and distributing multi-ton loads of cocaine that arrived in Honduras via planes, go-fast vessels, and, on at least one occasion, a submarine.  HERNANDEZ had access to cocaine laboratories in Honduras and Colombia, at which some of the cocaine was stamped with the symbol “TH,” i.e., “Tony Hernandez.”  HERNANDEZ also coordinated and, at times, participated in providing heavily armed security for cocaine shipments transported within Honduras, including by members of the Honduran National Police and drug traffickers armed with, among other weapons, machine guns.  

As part of his drug-trafficking activities, HERNANDEZ and his co-conspirators bribed law enforcement officials for sensitive information to protect drug shipments and solicited large bribes from major drug traffickers for HERNANDEZ.   In or about February 2014 in Honduras, HERNANDEZ met with Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, the former leader of a violent Honduran drug-trafficking organization known as the Cachiros, for a meeting arranged by, among others, a former member of the Honduran National Police.  During a video- and audio-recorded portion of that meeting, HERNANDEZ agreed to help Rivera Maradiaga by causing Honduran government entities to pay money owed to one or more Cachiros money-laundering front companies in exchange for kickback payments from Rivera Maradiaga.  Rivera Maradiaga paid HERNANDEZ approximately $50,000 during the meeting." And now El Chapo... Watch this site.

Inner City Press will continue to cover this and other SDNY and 2nd Circuit cases - watch this site, and there is more on Patreon, here.


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