We've written about this before, but the story has today come back to life with new details, new accusations. Ramon Sabilllon Pineda, who as head of the National Police helped dismantle the Valle Valle Cartel in Honduras, says that at least one of the Valle Valle family members told him that there were 15 currently serving politicians whose campaigns were funded by the drug traffickers in Honduras. Sabillón indicated both the Liberal and National Parties political campaigns were funded by the narco-cartels. Sabillón stated that the National Party contact for drug funding was Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernandez Alvarado, a.k.a. "el hermano de El Hombre", the brother of President Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado. Sabillón also ties Tony Hernandez to the ex-mayor of El Paraiso Alexander Ardon, a competitor with the Valle Valle family for control of the drug trade in western Honduras.
Sabillon provided the following transcript to Globo TV during an on-camera interview two days ago:
Drug Trafficker: This arrest, its it because of politics?
Sabillón: What are you referring to? The arrest warrant was carried out quickly.
Drug Trafficker: Yes, General, I finance the Liberal Party and I'm pursued because I'm a Liberal.
Sabillón: Finance what? Finance political campaigns? give t-shirts? What do you finance?
Drug Trafficker: Yes, political campaigns, General. But why do you not do anything with the Cartel of the National Party, or the Cartel of the Conservatives (cachurecos)?
Sabillón: Tell me a name.
Drug Trafficker: The Mayor of El Paraiso, Copan, Chagel Ardon and the brother who works with him.
Sabillón: Whose brother?
Drug Trafficker: The brother of The Man
Sabillón: Which man?
Drug Trafficker: You already know the Man I'm talking about.
We know now, two days later, that the "Drug Trafficker" was one of the Valle Valle family, captured by Sabillon's police and later extradited to the US. We also know now that the drug cartels are financing the political campaigns of both the Liberal and National parties in Honduras. All of the Honduran cartel's closed down in the last two years were those that were financing the Liberal party: the Valle Valle, Chepe Handal, and the Rivera Maradiaga cartels.
The "brother of The Man", Tony Hernandez, was elected to Congress in the same year his brother was elected President, the election of 2013. Tony is a lawyer, and as such defended two Colombians who were caught, twice, growing opium poppies, marijuana, and with a lab for processing cocaine and heroin in La Iguala, Lempira, in 2013, during the election campaign. The Colombians, Reuben Dario Pinilla and Freddy Roland Jiménez, were captured for the second time on July 25, 2013 in La Iguala. They had entered Honduras illegally, and had false identification papers. They were both captured on the property that housed a drug lab, and had four greenhouses with opium poppy seedlings growing in them. Fields with opium poppies and marijuana plants were found on the property as well. With the law office of Tony Hernandez representing them, the Colombians were released by the judge hearing the case at the initial hearing, before any evidence had been heard. After they were released, the Colombians fled the country. A later investigation which went no where, none-the-less found that several people, including the judge, had split about $150,000 in bribes.
In addition to his legal office, Tony Hernandez is a National Party member, a Congress person for the Department of Lempira, elected in 2013. He serves as the head of the Congressional Commission on Development and Social Protections. Along with his sister Hilda Hernandez , he owns the Hotel Posada de Don Juan in Gracias, Lempira. Hilda Hernandez is the Minister of Communications for her other brother, the President, Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Alexander Ardon and his brother Alfredo are the leaders of the "AA Brothers Cartel", as Honduran Intelligence named it. They were rivals of the Valle Valle cartel, and controlled the drug trade in much of the Departments of Copan and Ocotepeque for the Sinaloa Cartel. Alfredo was well connected in the National Party. He helped run the party's campaign in 2013 in Western Honduras, and after the election was re-appointed to the commission that allocates funding to road building ("Fondo Vial") before disappearing in 2014. His brother Alexander also disappeared in 2014, just before the raids on the Valle Valle family. In 2015 there were rumors that the AA brothers had negotiated with the DEA to turn themselves in, but the rumors turned out to be false.
The allegation that Tony Hernandez is the National Party's connection to drug money for financing campaigns is not new. Its been discussed in some of the Honduran press since the Colombian's captured in-flagrante were released without a real hearing. Sabillón is the first high government official to give voice to the claim, for which he is now suspended from the police.