Prosecutors in New York have alleged that the convicted Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán personally gave $1m in bribes to the brother of Honduras’s president to pass on to the Central American leader.
Prosecutor Jason Richman revealed the allegation in a federal court in Manhattan where Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, 41, is accused of using his government connections to smuggle US-bound cocaine through Honduras.
In opening statements, Richman described Tony Hernández as “untouchable” in Honduras and confident he would never face justice because of his powerful sibling.
“The defendant was protected by and had access to his brother, the current sitting president of Honduras, a man who himself has received millions of dollars in drug money bribes – bribes he received from some of the largest cocaine traffickers in the world, bribes he received from men like ‘El Chapo’ and the Sinaloa cartel who personally delivered $1m to the defendant for his brother,” Richman said.
The defendant was described as a “violent drug trafficker of epic proportions” who moved “massive” amounts of narcotics.
Hernández’s defence told jurors they will see no proof against their client during the trial.
The Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernández, has been labelled a co-conspirator, though he has not been charged.
Prosecutors allege he took about $1.5m in drug proceeds to win his first presidential campaign in 2013, in exchange for traffickers receiving protection.
“The allegation in itself is 100% false, absurd and ridiculous … this is less serious than Alice in Wonderland,” the president tweeted on Wednesday. He has said in the past that drug smugglers extradited under his government are seeking revenge.