Honduras’ new police chief accused of helping drug cartel move cocaine – National


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MEXICO CITY – The newly appointed nationwide police chief in Honduras, a key ally within the U.S. warfare on medication, helped a cartel chief pull off the supply of practically a ton of cocaine, in line with a confidential safety report obtained by the Related Press.

Chief Jose David Aguilar Moran, who was sworn in final week, referred to as off native cops who had simply busted a truckload of cocaine escorted by law enforcement officials in 2013, the report says. Aguilar, who was working his means up division ranks on the time, ordered the lower-level officers to let the medication and cops go, which they did. The U.S. avenue worth of the cocaine concerned might have topped $20 million.

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Cartel boss Wilter Blanco, who was operating the medication, was later caught with one other cocaine load, extradited to the U.S. and is now serving a 20-year sentence in U.S. jail.

However Chief Aguilar’s involvement, documented in an inside report, was by no means publicly reported. And final week, in a solemn ceremony, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez promoted him to the nation’s high cop, saying that the appointment would additional his years-long effort to root out corruption and modernize the power.

“We’re in a course of of remodeling the Nationwide Police,” the president stated.

On Friday, Omar Rivera, a member of the particular fee that claims it has purged greater than four,000 members of the Nationwide Police for causes starting from corruption to restructuring and voluntary retirement, stated it had no details about the incident involving Aguilar Moran.

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“We should not have in hand at the moment any data that claims Commissioner Aguilar Moran is a drug trafficker or collaborator of the drug cartels,” Rivera instructed native reporters. “We’re going to conduct an exhaustive investigation.”

The fee scheduled a gathering to debate the topic Friday.

AP didn’t share the copy of the Honduran Safety Ministry’s Inspector Basic report that mentions Aguilar out of safety issues, however described its contents to authorities officers. The Honduran authorities declared it a faux and stated the incident didn’t occur. Aguilar didn’t reply to requests for remark.

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However an ex-member of the Nationwide Police with data of the investigation confirmed officers discovered that Aguilar and different high officers conspired to cowl up the incident, and high-ranking officer defending the cocaine was later placed on go away earlier than changing into a sitting decide. Three different present and former high-ranking Honduran safety and police officers confirmed parts of the report. They spoke on situation of anonymity for worry of violent reprisals.

Additionally, former and present U.S. legislation enforcement officers and a U.S. prosecutor reviewed the doc for AP and stated it appeared real.

For years the U.S. army and legislation enforcement have partnered with the Honduran Nationwide Police and safety forces, attempting to cease narcotraffickers from transferring an estimated three tons a month of U.S.-bound cocaine. On the identical time, the U.S. is backing efforts to wash up a corrupt police division and has begun extraditing Honduran police into American courts the place they’re prosecuted.

“There’s a lot unlawful drug cash to be made and it’s so straightforward to get away with it, particularly if you’re within the police power,” U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) stated when requested about Aguilar’s appointment. “Way more must be recognized about him given the historical past of the Honduran police and its connections to organized crime, earlier than there will be confidence that he has the integrity to guide that establishment.”

Right here’s how the inspector basic report describes the alleged crime:

On Oct. 15, 2013 round midday, an area head of a tourism police company, appearing on a tip, stopped a tanker truck loaded with cocaine. Defending the load had been 11 law enforcement officials in 4 autos. The tourism officer hauled everybody – and the tanker of cocaine – into the station, however quickly an irate regional police chief confirmed up, threatening to get everybody fired for interfering with the illicit supply. They argued, the tourism officer pulled his gun, and the regional chief ended up on the ground in handcuffs, demanding a name to Aguilar.

And that was the tip of the bust.

Aguilar ordered the instant launch of the officers and the cocaine, and so they complied.

Investigators wished to grasp why Aguilar intervened.

They had been instructed that cartel boss Blanco routinely handed out hundreds of in bribes to police – together with Aguilar – to verify traffickers might safely land airplanes filled with South American cocaine in Honduras, unload their illicit cargo and switch it to autos heading north.

The report concludes that Aguilar and different commanders did not self-discipline the officers concerned and that they sat on the case at Blanco’s request, protecting it from prosecutors and the American Embassy, “with the tip purpose of letting the case expire.”

Blanco was arrested in 2016 in Costa Rica and extradited to the U.S. He pleaded responsible to conspiring to maneuver four,000 kilos of U.S.-bound cocaine from Colombia to Honduras throughout a two-month interval. It was broadly reported in Honduras that Blanco’s arrest had sparked investigations of dozens of police and different political and felony justice officers, however nothing about any corruption probes referring to Blanco has been publicly revealed. His lawyer Victor Rocha instructed AP that in repeated discussions his consumer by no means talked about police collaborating together with his drug smuggling operations.

Opposition occasion politician Maria Luisa Borjas, who ran the Nationwide Police’s inside affairs division throughout her lengthy profession on the power, stated she had seen the inspector basic’s report and will affirm its authenticity. She stated it reveals that the police purge fee’s declare to have cleaned up the ranks by booting four,000 members of the Nationwide Police is “a failure.”

That fee, whose work is ongoing, is “extra of a supply of official safety for individuals who have been tied to drug trafficking,” she stated.

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