Ex-Honduran Prez’s Son Pleads to Drug Charge

     MANHATTAN (CN) — The son of a former Honduran head of state pleaded guilty on Monday in the latest of several cases involving Drug Enforcement Administration sting operations that have snared Latin American presidential family members.
     Court papers are thin on details of the case of Fabio Lobo, the son of former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, who ruled the country between 2010 and 2014 following the coup d’etat that toppled Manuel Zelaya.
     The younger Lobo was arrested almost one year ago in Haiti on suspicion of trying to import thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States.
     Lobo’s five-page indictment contains few details, but prosecutors say that the son’s troubles began when he agreed to meet with two undercover DEA sources posing as Mexican drug traffickers two years ago.
     In return for a cut of the profits, Lobo offered to help the men ship a “multi-ton load of cocaine” into the United States and introduced them to Honduran police officials who could provide assistance, prosecutors say.
     The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office said that it obtained recorded conversations and emails showing Lobo planned to travel to Haiti to collect money for the transaction, and authorities arrested him after he traveled there.
     Today’s plea marks a sharp reversal from Lobo’s emphatic protestations of his innocence before U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield on Jan. 19.
     “I would like to communicate that I feel a little impotent about what is going on with my case,” the 44-year-old Lobo told the judge, according to the transcript. “I have a family to support. I have three daughters. I have never had any problems with the law in my country, never in my life.”
     At the time, Lobo blamed his prosecution on an unspecified person whom he said entangled him.
     “There were never any drugs,” he insisted months ago. “There was never anything. It was only in order to damage my person and my family. I beg Your Honor and I would like to say that I’m open to negotiate with the government anything.”
     Lobo faces at least 10 years behind bars and possible life imprisonment when sentenced on Sept. 15.
     Several other Latin American presidential family members have stood in Lobo’s shoes in the same Manhattan federal courthouse recently.
     Dino Bouterse, the son of Suriname’s sitting president Desi Bouterse, was dealt a 16-year sentence in March 2015 after being snared in a DEA narcoterrorism sting operation.
     His case was prominently featured in an investigative report from ProPublica last year which asked in its title, “Is the DEA Stopping Narco-terror Threats or Staging Them?”
     This past November, Venezuelen President Nicolas Maduro railed against “imperialist ambushes” upon learning that two of his wife’s nephews had been arrested and sent to New York on an indictment relating to a cocaine sting.
     The DEA’s habit of probing Latin America’s most powerful leaders has even made waves in Peru’s election, following reports today that candidate Keiko Fujimori is under investigation — a claim that the agency quickly denied in a statement.
     “Keiko Fujimori is not currently, nor has been previously, under investigation by DEA,” the agency said.

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