Six Honduran police officers indicted on U.S. drug charges

Reuters News
|
Posted: Jun 29, 2016 3:23 PM

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Six members of the Honduran National Police were indicted on Wednesday on U.S. charges they participated in drug trafficking activities and conspired with a son of former Honduras President Porfirio Lobo to import cocaine into the United States.

The indictment, filed in Manhattan federal court, said the officers agreed to take bribes to help two informants posing as drug traffickers transport a multi-ton load of cocaine through Honduras so it could be sent to the United States.

The two informants, who worked on behalf of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, were introduced in 2014 to the six officers by Fabio Lobo, a son of former Honduras President Porfirio Lobo, the indictment said.

Lobo, who prosecutors said agreed to provide the informants with security and logistical support in the purported drug deal, was arrested in 2015 in Haiti and pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.

The case comes amid efforts in Honduras to clean up the country's 12,000 strong police force, which has long been accused of working with criminal gangs in the poor Central American country.

According to U.S. prosecutors, certain members of the Honduran National Police from 2004 to 2014 received bribes from drug traffickers for access to information about ongoing probes and military and law enforcement checkpoints.

Prosecutors noted that the Honduran government had recently established a special commission with authority to investigate corruption and dismiss or suspend members of the Honduran National Police, and had sanctioned several members.

The six officers indicted were Ludwig Criss Zelaya Romero, 39, Mario Guillermo Mejia Vargas, 46, Juan Manuel Avila Meza, 45, Carlos Jose Zavala Velasquez, 44, Victor Oswaldo Lopez Flores, 43, and Jorge Alfredo Cruz Chavez, 39.

All six defendants remain at large and were charged for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and related firearms offenses. They could not be immediately reached for comment.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay)