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On Honduras Narco Fredy Najera Complained of CW-1 Now Gets 30 Years In Prison

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Song Filing
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Oct 13 – Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez took a briefcase of cash and said he would stuff drugs up the noses of the gringos, a jury was told on March 16, 2020.  Inner City Press live tweeted it, morning here and then the afternoon, about the video(s), here and below. Geovanny Fuentes was found guilty, and his lawyer told Inner City Press he thinks JOH will be or has already been indicted.

  On March 16 on a request for extradition to the US, Honduran Judge Edwin Fransisco Ortez had approved the extradition of JOH. Then there was an appeal - denied on March 28: The plenary of magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) ratified on Monday, March 28, the decision to extradite the former president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández , to the United States .  The decision was made after a plenary session of magistrates that began at around 9:30 a.m. on Monday, to hear the appeal of JOH. Denied.  Inner City Press which covers the SDNY daily is on alert for his arrival - then that of Tigre Bonilla.

  In a parallel track at SDNY is the case of Fredy Renan Najera Montoya, with an uncoming Fatico hearing that will include MM - on information and belief, Monroy Murillo. In an April 9 letter from his Miami-based lawyer, Najera complains among other things that DOJ has not provided requested Giglio information about MM, including his S-Visa, Rule 35 and NCIC report regarding "what appears to be a prior arrest for transporting drugs that may have resulted in his removal from the US." The US Attorney's Office responded that it "does not have any paperwork relating to an S-Visa application for CW-1," that it and the DEA "have not been involved in any S-Visa application process fro CW-1." It's the FBI that is the sponsoring agency. Oh.

On April 12 the Fatico hearing daty ended with photographs of Cessna and King 200 planes, and estimates of air strip length requirements to fly drugs in. Then Fredy Najera in baggy prison clothes was led out by the US Marshals.

On October 13, 2022, Fredy Najera was sentenced to 30 years: "FREDY RENAN NAJERA MONTOYA was sentenced to 30 years in prison for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and possessing machine guns and destructive devices during the course of that conspiracy.  NAJERA previously pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe, who sentenced Najera. According to the Superseding Indictment, other court filings, and statements made during other court proceedings:      From approximately 2008 through 2015, NAJERA abused his position as a Honduran congressman to lead large-scale and violent drug-trafficking activities in the same part of Honduras that he represented in his government position.  NAJERA’s crimes involved the distribution of more than 30 tons of cocaine, which was ultimately imported into the United States.  In connection with these activities, NAJERA used, and employed security teams who used military-grade weapons including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.      During that same time period, NAJERA constructed, maintained, and staffed clandestine airstrips in Olancho, Honduras, that were used to receive multi-hundred-kilogram shipments of cocaine sent from Venezuela to Honduras.  NAJERA facilitated the receipt of cocaine-laden planes and helicopters at his airstrips and coordinated the transportation of the cocaine westward in Honduras so that it could be imported into the United States.  Heavily armed security personnel employed by NAJERA participated in the receipt and transportation of these shipments.  NAJERA also cultivated criminal relationships with members of the Honduran National Police and the Honduran military in order to support his drug-trafficking activities by obtaining sensitive law enforcement information used by traffickers to avoid arrests and to plan transportation routes for U.S.-bound cocaine.     In 2012, NAJERA introduced members of the Sinaloa Cartel to Honduran officials who provided nearly unfettered access to a major commercial shipping hub in Puerto Cortés, Honduras.  The Sinaloa Cartel relied on NAJERA’s connections to transport approximately 10 tons of cocaine through Puerto Cortés. In addition to his prison sentence, NAJERA, 46, of Honduras, was sentenced to five supervised release, ordered to forfeit $39,000,000, and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000,000

This case is US v. Najera, 15-cr-378 (Gardephe)
Watch this site.

Back on September 8, 2021, Geovanny Fuentes fired his lawyer, and got a new (also publicly funded) one. Judge Castel ruled: "ORDER as to Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez. The trial of this action has resulted in a verdict. Defendant's post-verdict motions have been decided. The only proceeding remaining in this Court is sentencing."

But then on October 12, Geovanny Fuentes' sentencing that had been set for October 19 was pushed back again, to January 11.

 And on December 26, docketed December 27, his lawyer asked for the minimum, 40 years, and not life plus 30 years. But on page 1 of the three page sentencing submission, his name is spelled "Ramizer." 

On January 6, the US asked to push Geovanny's sentencing back to February 8, saying "the parties understand that due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic sentencing cannot proceed as scheduled on January 11, 2022." Inner City Press will remain on the case.

On July 19 on the Salgueros, this: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge P. Kevin Castel: (Telephone) Status Conference as to Otto Rene Salguero Morales, Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo held on 7/19/2021. Defendant Otto Salguero-Morales present with attorney, Robert Feitel. Defendant Ronald Salguero-Portillo present with attorney, Linda George. Defendants waive physical appearance. Government and defense counsel are required to submit letters by August 15, 2021 regarding blackout dates for the first quarter of 2020. Defendants' motion for a bill of particulars shall be filed by August 2, 2021. The next conference is scheduled for October 12, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. in Courtroom 11D. Time is excluded until 10/12/2021. Defendants continue to be detained." Inner City Press will stay on the cases.

 On May 10, in the parallel case of US v. Lobo,  Honduras police officer Ludwig Criss Zelaya Romero was being sentenced by Judge Schofield. Inner City Press live tweeted it here:

Inner City Press video stand up afterward here.

This case is US v. Lobo, et al., 15-cr-174 (Schofield)

  On April 26, the lawyer for co-defendant Otto Salguero Morales wrote to Judge Castel complaining he hasn't been given the recorded calls and emails "obtained in the Giovanni [sic] Fuentes case." So he says no trial date can be set. This while the UK sanctions Oscar Ramon Najera. What is the US State Department doing? We have asked them, and the US Mission to the UN, without answer.

Now on April 29, Otto Salguero-Morales' lawyer has followed up with a motion for "random reassignment" of his case, away from Judge Castel. He asks why his case was linked to that of Tony Hernandez, while Leonel Devis Rivera-Maradiaga and Alexander Ardon-Soriano have different judges. He questions the process of superseding indictments. Now there's also a Motion For Reassignment of Indictment . Document, filed by Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo. Watch this site.

  On April 23, Fuentes' lawyers filed a motion to set aside the verdict or for a new trial, arguing among other things that Judge Castel erred in permitting Leonel Rivera to testify to statement made by Metro and to Fuentes' alleged statements in the MCC. Inner City Press tweeted photo here. The US Attorney's Office immediately asked for an extension until May 21 to response - and got it. Watch this site.

  On March 16, JOH's brother Tony Hernandez was belatedly up for sentencing before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge P. Kevin Castel, who oversaw his trial leading to guilty verdicts in October 2019. Judge Castel sentenced him to life plus thirty years and said in prison he should reflect on how to help his family "and [his] country" - perhaps a reference to telling the US government and then juries what else he knows. Inner City Press live tweeted it, here  and below. The ensuing celebrations, across Worth Street from the SDNY courthouse and in Honduras, Inner City Press dubbed the "Castel-ebracion."

Now on April 12, two more defendants in the case had a status conference before Judge Castel. Inner City Press live tweeted it, here:

Judge Castel has a proceeding on Otto Rene Salguero Morales and Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo.

Lawyer for Ronald Enrique Salguero Portillo says she wants more discovery information, all she's been given is testimony of a cooperator, Ardon. Says she needs time to meet with the defendant at the MCC jail.

Judge Castel: Let's hear from the US. Why haven't you answered the defense's emails about discovery? Asst US Attorney: We spoke in December.

Lawyer: I wrote to them in January, nothing heard back. What is my client charged with? It can't just be what Mr. Ardon says.

Lawyer: This client is a Guatemalan national. My other client [in Lobo case before Judge Schofield] was a member of the Honduras National Police.

Judge Castel: Does the government think there is a potential conflict? AUSA: No view at this time.

Judge Castel (sounding frustrated) - We'll get to the bottom of this - did the government send you the discovery from the Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado case or not?

Lawyer: Partially. We didn't get discovery about the videos, nor copies of documents

Judge Castel: I'm wondering if I've been lied to, by one side or the other.  Now lawyer for Otto Rene Salguero Morales asks for discovery from the Geovanny Fuentes Ramirez trial.

Judge Castel: So when will this case be ready for trial? Lawyer for Otto Rene Salguero Morales: I can't be sure yet. I'll be in New York next week.

 Judge Castel: OK, we'll get together again in six weeks. May 26 at 10:30 am.

Interim update: this morning's proceeding was technical and proceeding, but the case involves not only Presidential brother Tony Hernandez, but also... El Chapo. A photo of a filing from the case is here.

On April 7, Tony Hernandez filed notice of appeal to the Second Circuit - still with a lawyer paid by the US taxpayers, and even the $505 appeal fee waived: "Appeal Remark as to Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado re: [311] Notice of Appeal - Final Judgment. $505.00 Appeal Fee Waived. Attorney CJA."

 Also on April 7, another proceeding, this time in Judge Castel's own, smaller courtroom. Inner City Press live tweeted it here:

Mauricio Hernandez Pineda is in yellow prison jump suit. Inner City Press is alone in the gallery.  It has begun.

Mauricio Hernandez Pineda's lawyer Mr Leader has represented Zavala Velasquez in US v Lobo. Will he waive the conflict?

But first: he is 49, gets treatment for cholesterol. Brother passed away last week.

 US says both were members of same conspiracy. But Mauricio Hernandez Pineda waives any conflict of interest.

Proceeding is over. Next date is June 8, 2:30 pm, time excluded with US citing possible "pre-trial disposition" talks, which is standard

  On April 5, Inner City Press began asking what has happened with the 2018 indictment of Midence Oqueli Martinez Turcios? Since July 2018, there is nothing in the docket, although Honduran media reported he had turned himself in to the DEA. Where is he? Who might he testify against? Indictment and more on Patreon here.

 On April 2, with the indictment of El Tigre Bonilla still listed as "under seal," Inner City Press published the indictment on its DocumentCloud, here. Why is this still listed as sealed? Watch this site.

From March 30: Judge Castel: Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado, you are remanded to be imprisoned for life on Count 1... & 30 years on Count 2, consecutive. Forfeiture of $138.5 million. No fine.

Judge Castel: You have the right to appeal, including as a poor person. I hope that while you are in person you will reflect on your life and what you've done and turn your life around. Perhaps you can do some good for your family and your country.

 Defense lawyer Brill: I will file a notice of appeal, and then be relieved. Judge Castel: We are adjourned.

A question still: Does the right to access to Federal court proceedings extend to listen-only telephone lines, in the time of COVID and beyond? Should it?

 The question has been further raised in the ongoing Honduras narco-trafficking case US v. Geovanny Fuentes, which Inner City Press has been covering in-person in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where it is "in-house press."

   On the morning of March 13, Inner City Press filed a challenge to the cut-off of audio access to the US v. Fuentes trial, citing the First Amendment, COVID and real-world politics, see here and below.

  Late on the evening of March 14, the US Attorney's Office filed a three page letter into the docket, specifically arguing the the call-in line be eliminated for two entire Witnesses and everything they say. US Attorney's Office's letter, now uploaded on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud, here.

 Inner City Press has immediately responded in opposition, here, stating among other things that "the US Attorney's Office seeks to specifically ban public access to two of their Witnesses, while saying that a transcript would be available at some unspecified date afterwards. Given that the Office has yet to unseal improperly redacted portions of their filings, there is little reason to have confidence in the speed of transcription, or that such transcripts would not be too expensive for the public or media. 

Inner City Press after its first filing waited nine hours, including this song, here, to report about it. Full first letter on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud, here.

  Inner City Press itself obeys all existing rules and is grateful for the additional access as in-house media (particularly since it is banned from covering the UN, which now Constitutional rights such as the First Amendment exist).

  But others have rights too - including journalists and regular citizens of Honduras. If the SDNY prosecutors are going to exercises essentially universal jurisdiction for any wire transfer that passes through lower Manhattan, how ever briefly, they should not oppose access to their trials by those impacted, for better and worse.

Judge Castel is a good judge, in Inner City Press' experience. When petitioned he has ordered the unsealing of certain court documents, in a North Korea crypto-currency conference case and the tech / child sex sentencing of Peter Bright former of ArsTechnica, both of which Inner City Press covered and requested. And Judge Castel is certainly in the mainstream in his March 12 psoition. But should it be rethought? Is there a right? Should there be? Watch this site.

The case is US v. Diaz, 15-cr-379 (Castel).


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