NEW YORK (AP) — The son of former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo pleaded guilty Monday to a cocaine trafficking conspiracy charge, admitting teaming up with drug traffickers and Honduran police to try to ship cocaine into the United States.
Fabio Lobo, 44, spoke through an interpreter in Manhattan federal court as he confessed to a conspiracy that stretched from 2009 to 2014, nearly matching the years when his father served as president from 2010 to 2014.
Lobo told U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield that no one forced him to plead guilty even though he was placing himself at the mercy of the court to decide his fate on a charge that carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life. His sentencing was set for Sept. 15.
Lobo was brought to the United States in May 2015 to face an indictment charging him with conspiring to smuggle over 5 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.
Defense attorney Manuel Retureta said outside court that his client was accepting responsibility for his "grave misstep."
"He got close to individuals that were large-scale drug traffickers," Retureta said. "He is stepping forward and accepting responsibility for what he did."
Lobo, who remains in custody, was told by the judge that he will most likely be deported after he finishes serving his sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Emil Joseph Bove III told the judge that Lobo in late 2013 worked with others, including members of the Honduran police, to allow cocaine to pass safely through Honduras on its way to the U.S.
Members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration posed as members of the conspiracy and were taken to a meeting with Honduran police employees, Bove said.
He said a high-ranking official of the government of Honduras was approached during the conspiracy, but the official refused to participate.
Lobo was arrested in the spring of 2015 when he went to Haiti, where he thought he was going to receive money for his role in the scheme, Bove said.
Lobo told Schofield he knew what he was doing was against the law.