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Feds accuse two Honduran lawmakers of working with Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and MS-13

July 21, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Feds accuse two Honduran lawmakers of working with Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and MS-13

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Two Honduran political officials are facing federal drug trafficking and firearms charges in the United States for their purported roles in assisting the Sinaloa Cartel smuggle large cocaine loads from Colombia and Venezuela into Honduras, then onto Mexico, and eventually into the U.S.

In two separate indictments, federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District charged the former two Honduran officials including former congressman Midence Oqueli Martinez Turcios, and Arnaldo Urbina Soto, a one-time mayor of the city of Yoro, for drugs and weapons offenses.

According to a Justice Department press release, Martinez Turcios is accused of using gunmen from the ultra-violent MS-13 gang for security in transporting the cocaine shipments.

Federal officials are attempting to extradite both politicians and other associates.

In one of the cases, U.S. DEA agents allege that Midence Oqueli Martinez Turcios played an active role in the drug smuggling enterprise.

Former Honduran congressman Midence Oqueli Martinez Turcios (above)

“As alleged, these defendants include a Honduran congressman and a former Honduran mayor. All are charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the U.S. and conspiring to use and carry machine guns and destructive devices in furtherance of cocaine importation. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement.

“Politically connected defendants in Honduras allegedly working in league with violent drug cartels is a recipe for harm here in the U.S. We are committed to working with the DEA to police and prosecute such conduct,” Berman added.

Officials claim Martinez Turcios is a member of a violent Honduran-based drug cartel called “Cachiros;” the group was identified as helping smuggle cocaine on behalf of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

Once headed by infamous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the Sinaloa Cartel is considered the most significant drug trafficking group in the world with direct links to Asian and European crime groups.

A report in 2015 published by the DEA indicated that the Sinaloa Cartel managed to infiltrate and set up areas of influence in most U.S. cities–turning the criminal group into the largest drug supplier for the country.

After El Chapo was extradited to the U.S., the Sinaloa Cartel lost some status to their rival, Jalisco New Generation Cartel or CJNG, but remains the leading group.

The two groups are engulfed in a fierce turf war for control of major drug trafficking territories and cities throughout Mexico.

Between 2004 and 2014, federal prosecutors and DEA agents indicated that Martinez Turcios received over $1 million from the Cachiros allegedly used to finance his political career.

Martinez Turcios is alleged to have personally escorted cocaine loads and sent teams of MS-13 hitmen employed by Los Cachiros to secure the drug shipments and execute enforcement operations.

Arnaldo Urbina Soto pictured after his arrest last year

Feds say Martinez Turcios used his influence as a Honduran congressman to assist the Los Cachiros in their criminal activities.

The lawmaker also was a frontman for Los Cachiros in money laundering efforts as well.

In a separate indictment, feds charged Arnaldo Urbina and several other co-conspirators of running a drug trafficking enterprise based in the city of Yoro, where he served as mayor from 2009 to 2014.

DOJ officials say the group was responsible smuggling planeloads of cocaine from South America to clandestine airstrips in Honduras and destined for the U.S.

In January, federal prosecutors and DEA agents charged another Honduran congressman in the case, Fredy Renan Najera Montoya, for his participation in helping move cocaine loads for the Sinaloa Cartel.

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