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In Honduras Trial US Uses Witness Put Millions in Drug Money Into Houses and Farms and Bribes

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 afternoon of October 4 Tony Hernandez' lawyer Omar Malone questioned cooperating witness Victor Hugo Diaz Morales about shooting his wife in the face, and where all of his drug profits were hidden (farms and houses, it seems). More on Patreon here. Here are two exhibits, and here's how some of it went: "Tony Hernandez' lawyer Omar Malone is asking the cooperating witness how and when he got his deal. AUSA Houle objects, referring to privileged information. 

Malone: Do you recall signing a document that you would not falsely incriminate anyone? Witness (pause) Please repeat the question. Malone: You knew you were supposed to tell the truth during that meeting. Witness: The document was in English.

Malone: Do you remember an interpreter translating it for you into Spanish? Witness: I don't remember. Malone: Did Tony Hernandez come up in that meeting? Witness: I don't remember the topics that came up.

 Malone: I started out by asking you about being truthful- Judge Castel: Just ask the question. Malone: Would an honest man lie? Witness: I already told you, I was afraid. Malone: You never had any problem exacting punishment on people in your history, right?

 Malone: Are you telling this jury that despite your history you were afraid of this gentleman (gestures at Tony Hernandez) and that is why you lied to prosecutors? Witness: I cannot suggest anything to the jury.

Malone: When you were arrested you had a cell phone, right? Witness: Yes. Malone: They downloaded the information from your phone, right? Witness: Yes.  Malone: Did you use WhatsApp? Witness: No. Malone: So only phone and text and in person? Witness: Yes

 Malone: And the only way you can get that 40 year sentence reduced is if the prosecutors file something with the court that Mr. Diaz Morales has been cooperative, right? Witness: It will also have full detail of all my crimes.

Malone: You know you have to please the prosecutors with your cooperation in order to get that reduction request? Witness: That is not correct.  Malone: Is it fair to say you don't want to spend 40 years in prison in the US? Witness: That's right.

 Malone: Other than the ledgers and a cell phone, did you turn over any other evidence to the prosecution? Witness: Repeat me the question. Malone (specifies cell phone was turned over to DEA by Diaz Morales' lawyer in Guatelama) Witness: I do not remember that. Inner City Press @innercitypress · 2h Malone: Did you turn over millions of dollars? Witness: No. Malone: Where is the money? Witness: Please repeat the question. Malone: Can I have the court reporter repeat that? Witness: Part in property, and part is owned to me.

Malone: As a drug dealer, you did not have a bank account, right? Witness: That's right, I don't have one. Malone: What kind of property? Witness: A few houses and a few ranches [fincas]. Malone: How many fincas? Witness: More than two. 

Malone: Do you have a farm in Honduras? Witness: Yes. Malone: And houses in Honduras? Witness: It is my daughter's house. Malone: Does she live there? Witness: No. The house is under investigation. The ranch too.

 Malone: What did you do with your drug money? Diaz Morales: I don't understand the question. Malone: What did you do with the money? AUSA Houle: Objection - asked and answered. Malone: But he didn't answer.

Malone: Those five house and two fincas, they didn't cost the $72 million you made trafficking drugs.  Diaz Morales: In that period of time there were also expenses.

Malone gets Diaz Morales to admit he had someone killed - than asks him,  skepticism dripping: "But you're afraid of Tony Hernandez?" "Yes."

Now re-direct of Diaz Morales by AUSA Houle, to rehabilitate him it seems: "Did some of your expenses include bribes you paid to police and political campaigns?"

 AUSA Houle: "After you had Carlos Toledo murdered, the defendant continued to work with you on drug trafficking?" Diaz Morales: Yes. AUSA Houle: Were you charged with it before you arrived in the US? Diaz Morales: No.

AUSA Houle: So Exhibit 701 is your cooperation agreement, listing all the murders you admitted to. Will your sentencing judge be aware of all those murders? Diaz Morales: Yes. Houle: Has anyone made you any promises what sentence you will get? Diaz Morales: No.

Judge Castel tells the jurors, "Our work week is finished. Put the case out of your mind. Some of you will be watching the Yankees playoff game."

  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 . 

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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