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In Honduras Trial Ardon Links JOH and Chapo As Admits Killing 56 People Wants 5K Letter

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

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 8 – 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. On October 8, sworn witness Alex Ardon further described the meeting, with both El Chapo and Tony Hernandez present and the cash in plastic bags, and then got cross examined about killing 56 people, see thread, Patreon and below.

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 8 Ardon finished with his direct examination and then was subject to cross examination by Tony Hernandez' lawyer Omar Malone. Here's some of how it went:

AUSA: Where did you meet El Chapo? Ardon: In Copan, a place called Espiritu. AUSA: Was Tony Hernandez there? Ardon: Yes. And others including Mario Calix.

 Ardon: Tony Hernandez told Chapo Guzman that if Juan Orlando Hernandez won the election, he could be provided with security for cocaine shipments.

 Ardon: Chapo Guzman offered Tony H $1 million for his brother's campaign. AUSA: After that meeting, did you speak to the defendant again about the $1 million offer? Ardon: Yes. He said he had spoken with Juan Orlando Hernandez and that he did need the $1 million

 Ardon: Tony Hernandez told me that Juan Orlando Hernandez told us to be careful with photographs, and phones.... Tony Hernandez told me they needed the $1 million because the election was very near

 AUSA: Who arrived in El Paraiso first? Ardon: Tony Hernandez got there first, before El Chapo. I sent Melvin Pinto to La Entrada to pick up Tony Hernandez. AUSA: Who did Tony Hernandez bring with him? Ardon: Mario Calix and Primo.

 AUSA: Was Primo armed? Ardon: He had an M16 strapped by a belt. AUSA: What happened when Chapo arrived? Ardon: We sat around a table to talk. AUSA: Where was the table? Ardon: En el comedor, en la sala. [Ardon's dining room]

 AUSA: Was Primo in the room? Ardon: Primo was right outside the house. AUSA: And Melvin Pinto? Ardon: Outside by the pool.

Ardon: Chapo talked to Tony Hernandez about protection for the shipments, and for me. AUSA: Did Tony Hernandez say anything about protection of cocaine from Nicaragua to Guatemala, as it passed through Honduras?

 Ardon: Tony Hernandez told El Chapo Guzman that there would only be protection if Juan Orlando Hernandez won the election. AUSA: Yesterday you described a payment. Where was the money? Ardon: The money was in the car.

AUSA: What happened with that money? Ardon: Chapo said to bring it in. We counted it on the table. There was a million dollars. AUSA: What happened with it? Ardon: We put it in a bag and Chapo handed it to Tony Hernandez.

 AUSA: Did Tony Hernandez ask you for help? Ardon: Yes, for security up to La Entrada. AUSA: Who traveled to La Entrada with Chapo's million dollars? Ardon: Tony Hernandez, Mario Calix, Primo, Melvin Pinto, me, and an escort.

 AUSA: There was a separate escort vehicle? Who was in it? Ardon: Six security people. AUSA: Were you armed? Ardon: With an AR-15. AUSA: Did Primo still have the rifle strapped to his chest? Ardon: Yes.

AUSA: What did Tony Hernandez do at El Entrada? Ardon: There were two cars waiting for him. He took the money and he left. AUSA: Who won the election? Ardon: Juan Orlando Hernandez.

 AUSA: What did Tony Hernandez say to you about the chief of the national police, Ramon Sabillon? Ardon: That Juan Orlando Hernandez was going to remove him, there was talk about why me and Tony Hernandez were not being arrested since we were drug traffickers.

 AUSA: Did you talk to Tony Hernandez about the arrest of the Valles?  Ardon: Yes. AUSA: Did Tony H say why they were arrested? Ardon: He said the Valles were arrested because they had attempted to kill Juan Orlando Hernandez.

 Ardon: I asked Tony Hernandez if I would be arrested, in the same way that the Valles had been arrested. AUSA: What did he say? Ardon: That as long as the National Party was in power they were going to keep me protected.

Ardon: We met in Tegucigalpa, where my brother was working. Juan Orlando Hernandez was there. AUSA: Did you say anything about Chapo Guzman? Ardon: I told President Juan Orlando Hernandez that Chapo was pressuring me, because of the arrest of the Valle brothers.

 AUSA: What did you say about the $1 million? Ardon: I told Juan Orlando Hernandez that he had been paid the $1 million to protect the Valles... Juan Orlando Hernandez said that he had no obligation to anyone.

 Ardon: In 2015 Minister Ordonez told me that Juan Orlando Hernandez said that my brother Hugo should resign, that he didn't not like the press reports about Hugo and I being drug traffickers - and that we had to win Copan for J.O.H.

 AUSA: What did that mean, to win Copan? Ardon: That I should finance and bribe mayors to make sure Juan Orlando Hernandez won in the departamento de Copan.

AUSA: Who was at the meeting in Santa Rosa? Ardon: Hugo my brother, Tony, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and me. AUSA: What was said? Ardon: Juan Orlando Hernandez asked me to finance the National Party's campaign, through the mayors, in some departments

 AUSA: What did Juan Orlando Hernandez offer you? Ardon: That he would still keep providing us protection for drug trafficking, that things were easier now that my brother Hugo was no longer a public official...Ardon: It seemed Primo was not convinced where I was. He said he thought I was surrendering to the United States. Primo told me Juan Orlando had said there was no arrest warrant or extradition order against me.

AUSA: But you later surrendered. What was the minimum sentence that you faced? Ardon: Thirty to life. AUSA: Were you charged with any murders? Ardon: No. AUSA: After you surrendered, did you provide info to the government? Ardon: Yes.

 AUSA: What were the topics on which you withheld information? Ardon: I withheld information about Chapo Guzman and Juan Orlando Hernandez. AUSA: Why did you withhold that information? Ardon: Because of fear of retaliation against my family.

AUSA: Where was your family? Ardon: In Copan. AUSA: Now what is the mandatory minimum sentence that you face? Ardon: Life plus thirty years. AUSA: How many murders were included in your cooperation agreement? Ardon: Fifty six murders.

AUSA: What is your understanding of what the government will do for you? Ardon: The prosecutor would submit a 5K letter. AUSA: If you get that letter, what would happen to your mandatory minimum sentence? Ardon: The minimum sentence would be removed.

AUSA: Has anyone guaranteed you the letter? Ardon: No. AUSA: If you get it, what will the letter day? Ardon: My bad and my good. AUSA: Your good? Ardon: Cooperation. Testifying. Telling the truth.

 AUSA: If you get a 5K letter, is the judge required to give you a lower sentence? Ardon: I don't know. AUSA: Who decides? Ardon: The judge.

Cross examination:

Malone: Do you have a family, sir? How many kids?

 Ardon: My family is in Spain. For safety reasons. Malone: When is the last time you saw your family? Ardon: Around thee weeks ago. Malone: They came to visit you? Ardon: Yes.

 Malone: Back when you were in your hometown, your family was in business? What kind of business? Ardon: An agricultural business. Malone: While you were dealing in drugs, you were putting yourself out as a farmer, right? Ardon: I don't understand the question.

Malone: Did you tell charities you gave money to, you didn't tell them it was drug money, did you? Ardon: No, I didn't say. Malone: You wanted people to believe you were a legitimate business man, right? Like when you were elected mayor. Ardon: Right.

Ardon: My kids knew what I did for a living. Malone: They knew you were a drug trafficker? Ardon: Yes. Malone: But not your constituents? Or your mother Paula, before she passed away. Ardon: She knew I was a drug trafficker.

 Ardon: They saw I was getting a lot of money. That's how they knew I was a drug trafficker. Malone: But you and your family tried to hide it from the public, isn't that right? From law enforcement? Ardon: Right.  Malone: You said you were responsible for 250 tons of cocaine to the US, right? Ardon: Right. Malone: And you got paid for each kilo of cocaine, right? Ardon: Si. Malone: How much were you getting paid per kilo? Ardon: It varied.

 Malone: You made millions and million and millions of dollars selling drugs, right? Ardon: I don't understand the word Millions and millions and millions. Malone: With the government, did you calculate how much money you made? Ardon: Yes.

 Ardon: I made between 200 and 250 million [U.S.] dollars. Malone: What kind of things did you buy with your drug money, sir? Ardon: Farms, houses, cars, equipment... Malone: Let's start with the fincas. How many? Ardon: Around 15 ranches

Malone: How many houses? Ardon: Around ten. Malone: What other stuff did you buy? Ardon: [Long list - interpreters asks to confer with her colleague, then says] to work with cement, and the interpreters are researching...

 Interpeter: We've found it. The word is "drills." Malone: So farm equipment, as if you were a legitimate businessman, right? Ardon: We had agricultural contracts.

 Malone: And the people on the other side of the contracts they thought you were legitimate? AUSA: Objection. Malone: I'll rephrase - YOU wanted them to believe you were legitimate, right? Ardon: Right.

 Suddenly Judge Castel declares a five minute break, telling the jury not to discuss the case among themselves.

Cross-examination of Ardon continues. Malone: Did you provide your fellow drug traffickers with your coordinates? Ardon: Yes. Malone: In your cell phone you used for drug trafficking, there were contacts, were there not? Ardon: Yes.  Malone: And the contacts in your drug trafficking cell phone would be other drug traffickers, right? Ardon: Yes. Malone: Like El Chapo? Ardon: I said I *met* with El Chapo. Malone: But you had to call someone, in order to meet El Chapo, right? Ardon: Right.

Malone: El Chapo wouldn't just show up for a meeting without knowing the agenda in advance, right? Ardon: Right. Malone: You said you met Chapo in your home in 2013, right? When he was the biggest drug trafficker in the world, with a worldwide manhunt? Ardon: Yes.

 Malone: And you're trying to convince this jury that El Chapo, with the whole world looking for him, came and met you? Who did you call to see it up? Ardon: Don Amado. Malone: By the way, did you give the government any of your electronics when you turned yourself in? Ardon: No.

 Malone: Did you tell the government what service provider you used for your phone? Ardon: Yes. Malone: In preparation for your cooperation, were you ever shown records of your cell phone? Ardon: I don't understand.

Malone: Did they show you documents, in your meetings with the government? Ardon: No. Malone: Let me be sure I understand your testimony. For example, the pictures that you testified about yesterday, you remember those? Ardon: Yes.

Malone: They showed you those in advance, right? Like the photo of El Tigre, right? Ardon: Yes. Malone: And pictures of Juan Orlando Hernandez, and Tony Hernandez, they should you those in advance, right?

Malone: Do you use credit cards, sir? Ardon: No. Malone: Your city hall, did it have a heliport on top of it? You put it there? Ardon: Yes.Malone: You installed cameras around your city hall, right? Ardon: Yes. Malone: You could see who came from any way, right? Ardon: Yes. Malone: You had cameras at your home, the one you say you met El Chapo in? Ardon: No.

 Malone: Would an honest man murder 56 people? Ardon: No. Malone: Would an honest man torture people, like you've admitted? Ardon: No. Malone: Would an honest man meet with the US government and lie to them? Ardon: I don't understand the question

 Malone: When you killed the 56 people, were you afraid of Juan Antonio Hernandez? Ardon (after a pause) No.

 Malone: Turning to your plea agreement, prior to signing it, your life was looking pretty dim, right? Ardon: Yes. Malone: You were looking at life in prison, a minimum mandatory consecutive sentence of forty years, right? Ardon: Yes. Malone: Not seeing your family?

 Malone: Without the 5K1 letter, if Mister Bov-ay [Bove] doesn't file it, your sentence is life, right?
Malone: Sir, your freedom is valuable to you, isn't it? Ardon: Yes. Malone: And you would do pretty much anything to get it back, right? Ardon: All I have to do is tell the truth, to be free.

Malone: In fact, sir, doesn't this boil down to your testimony deciding whether you go to jail for life, or Tony Hernandez does? AUSA: Objection.

 Malone: Is it fair to say that while you were still in Honduras, you were concerned about being extradited to the United States? Ardon: No. Malone: But you inquired of Mr Hernandez multiple times about whether you would be extradited, right? Ardon: Yes.

 Malone: You had a fear of being transferred to the US by the president of Honduras, right? Ardon: No. Malone: But you were worried when it happened to the Valles, right? Ardon: Right.

 Malone: Word had gotten out to the community of drug traffickers that President Hernandez was extraditing drug traffickers, right? Ardon: Right. [Note: Ardon on direct testified that Valles were arrested because they plotted to try to kill Juan Orlando Hernandez]

Malone: So the president wouldn't call you, to set up these meetings, only an assistant? Ardon: The president would call "Carlos Pinera" [or Pineda?] to set up the meetings. [Note: I'm sure I'm missing something obvious here - who's this Carlos?]

In courtroom, Ardon just asked, "Can I say something?" That's not how cross-examination works. Malone: Can I show the witness something?  Judge Castel: Is it a fair and accurate depiction of the scene that appears in the photo? Ardon: Yes.

 Malone: Defense exhibit 104. Are you in that picture? Ardon: Yes. I am there [touches screen the photo is on.] Malone: On the screen, to your right, the gentleman in the white shirt, glasses on, who is that? Ardon: The Ambassador of the United States.

 Malone: And when was this photo with the US Ambassador taken? Ardon: When the [Lempira] project was finished. Malone: Is your brother in the picture? Ardon: No.... I don't remember where the man next to the Ambassador is mayor from

Malone: The gentleman with the bald head, who's he? Ardon: I don't know. Malone: Was this the first time you met the US Ambassador? Ardon: Yes. That is why we were happy. All of us wanted to take a picture with him. Malone: What year was it? Ardon: I don't recall.

 Malone: Did you tell the US Ambassador you were a drug dealer, sir? Ardon: No. Malone: Did any of his security detail pull you aside before you were a drug dealer? Ardon: No. Malone: You had security, right? Ardon: Yes. Malone: if I could have a moment, Judge.

 Malone: Judge, I have maybe ten minutes left -- Judge Castel: We are taking our lunch break, do not discuss the case. [To the gallery:] Silence! Now to crowd: I insist on silence for respect, and it is my responsibility to ensure the integrity of this trial.

Judge Castel: "If we get to the point where we have to have marshals eject people, I will make my findings of fact and I will do it.  "Have a pleasant lunch."

Judge Castel has just issued a warning: he says someone took a photo of a juror during the lunch break, apparently outside the courthouse. He says that could be intimidation and that he has asked the prosecutors to investigate.

 Note: Outside the courthouse today there are not only Hondurans but also photographers waiting for Michael Avenatti who has a status conference at 2:30 pm. Inner City Press streamed a Periscope - is that not allowed?

Malone: The cell phone numbers that you used for drug trafficking, did you turn those numbers over to the prosecutors? AUSA: Objection. Judge Castel: Sustained.

 Malone: Did you keep drug ledgers for your drug activities? Ardon: Yes. Malone: Where are they? Ardon: They were entrusted to Melvin Pinto. They were burned.

 Malone: When was the first time you were shown a photo of the T.H. stamp? Ardon: I do not understand. Malone: You know the picture I am talking about? Ardon: Yes. Malone: When did you first see it? Ardon: I saw it around 2011
Malone: I am showing you Gov Exhibit 702, your plea agreement - did you sign it? Ardon: Yes. Malone: Is this the list of people whom you murdered? Ardon: I conspired in the murder of those people.

 Malone: Were these people who were injured or tortured? Ardon: I don't remember.  Now re-direct: AUSA: You told the defendant and Juan Orlando Hernandez about your drug trafficking, right? Ardon: Yes.

 AUSA: For the 56 murders, were you ever arrested in Honduras? Ardon: No. AUSA: As far as you know, were you ever even investigated for those 56 murders? Ardon: No, I was not investigated.

 AUSA: In fact, you've testified that the Honduran National Police even coordinated one of the murders for you and the defendant? Ardon: Yes. AUSA: And that victim was Franklin Arita, correct? Number 25 in your plea agreement, right? Ardon: Yes.

 AUSA: Have you been honest with the [U.S.] government about your violence? Ardon: Yes. AUSA: Please turn to page 3 of the agreement.  It says you face life then 30 years, do you see that? Ardon: Yes.

 AUSA: And you know if you lie at this trial, there will be no 5K, and you will be sentenced to life plus 30 years in jail, right? Ardon: Si. AUSA: You were asked about the worldwide manhunt for Chapo Guzman. Ardon: Yes.

 AUSA: And you testified about two meetings with El Chapo in 2013. What type of security arrangements were made to allow Chapo to enter Honduras twice during that year? Ardon: Half of the men were from Honduras and half from Guatemala.

AUSA: Did the Honduras authorities help Chapo to lend in Honduras? Ardon: We handled the security with our own men. We ensured that only the Honduran National Police were in our area, no one else. AUSA: Was the security for Chapo armed? Ardon: Yes. AR-15s and M16s

AUSA: On extradition of the Valle brothers to the US in 2014, the defendant explained to you that Juan Orlando Hernandez extradited them because the brothers had tried to assassinate him, right? Ardon: Yes   Note: we've asked  @JuanOrlandoH "Today Alex Ardon testified that after the arrest of the Valle brothers, El Chapo Guzman complained that his $1 million had been to protect them as well - and that you said you had no obligation and offered to return the money. Are you denying that?

And now after some audio recording were played- Inner City Press will endeavor to obtain and put them online- Judge Castel has ended the trial for the day, and said it will not meet again until Thursday. We'll be here- stories forthcoming include on JOH's denials

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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