Humanosity says…The trial of the brother of the sitting President of Honduras in New York is revealing in detail the links between drug lords and one of the nation’s wealthiest families. This article shows how the elites and the narcos do business
As Honduras remains riveted on the trial of Tony Hernández, a document from the case file reveals details of another drug trafficking connection involving one of Central America’s wealthiest and most politically connected families.
Exhibit G from US v. Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández — the landmark trial in New York against the brother of sitting Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández — is a straightforward legal request by the US prosecutor to a judge for access to “non-content information” from emails stored on various private servers.
As a justification for its request, the exhibit details numerous connections between one of Honduras’ foremost drug trafficking clans, popularly known as the Cachiros, and one of the country’s most powerful families, the Rosenthal clan.
The document, dated July 2, 2015, lists the targets of the investigation, which include Jaime Rosenthal, the recently deceased patriarch and former Honduran vice president; Jaime’s son, Yani, who ran for president once and may do so again; and Jaime’s nephew, Yankel, then the president of Marathon, one of Honduras’ premier soccer clubs, which was owned by the family.
In October 2015, US prosecutors charged Jaime, Yani, Yankel, as well as a company lawyer, Andres Acosta, with drug trafficking and money laundering, among other crimes. But as opposed to the Tony Hernández case, the Rosenthal case did not go to trial. Yani, Yankel, and Acosta pleaded guilty and were sentenced independently. Presumably because of their cooperation in theirs and other cases, US authorities did not press Honduras to extradite Jaime, who died in Honduras in January 2019.
What’s more, many of the only details of the relationship between the Cachiros and the Rosenthal family came from InSight Crime’s interview with Jaime Rosenthal and his daughter Patricia in June 2015, in which Jaime described how the Rivera Maradiaga family — then a group of cattle rustlers — began selling their cows to the Rosenthal-owned meat-packing plant.
“They were good clients for us,” Patricia Rosenthal told InSight Crime, before handing over a copy of a check written by the head of the Cachiros, Javier Rivera Maradiaga.
Exhibit G fills in some of the rest of that story.
As the Rosenthals told InSight Crime, it all began with cattle. But the Rosenthals omitted a key detail: those cattle were “purchased,” as the prosecutor says, with proceeds from drug trafficking. The Rosenthals’ defence was that they didn’t have the resources to verify their clients were above board. Jaime showed InSight Crime a letter he’d sent to the embassy requesting assistance in vetting the clients.
But then the relationship deepened much more than Jaime had explained in the interview. In 2009, the prosecutor says, Jaime transferred a parcel of land to CW-1 (Confidential Witness One.) CW-1 was presumably either the oldest brother, Javier, the middle brother, Devis, or their younger brother, Santos Isidro. The three made up the core of the Cachiros. By then, all three had turned themselves into US authorities and had become cooperating witnesses in numerous cases, including the one against the Rosenthals.
In return for the land, Jaime expected to get “below-market-rate” prices for the cows the Rivera Maradiaga family were selling to them, the US prosecutor says in the exhibit. This was not a small deal — the Rosenthal family were one of the largest meat and dairy providers in Honduras during this time period…