Jury Convicts Honduran Drug Trafficker of Cocaine Conspiracy
A federal jury in the Eastern District of Virginia convicted a Honduran man yesterday of leading a drug trafficking organization that helped smuggle thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States over the last decade.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia, Acting Special Agent in Charge Scott W. Hoernke for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division, Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., and Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police, made the announcement.
Arnulfo Fagot-Maximo, 57, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine knowing that the cocaine was to be unlawfully imported into the United States following a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. Fagot-Maximo had been extradited to the United States following his indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia. According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Arnulfo Fagot-Maximo was the leader of a drug trafficking organization based in the La Mosquitia region of the Departamento Gracias a Dios, Honduras. His organization was a critical link between Colombian cocaine suppliers and other major Honduran traffickers. For over a decade, Fagot-Maximo received cocaine from Colombia along the Mosquitia coast by “go fast” boats, small aircraft, and submersible vessels in quantities ranging from a few hundred to several thousand kilograms per delivery. Most of this cocaine was transferred to the Montes Bobadilla organization in Francia, Honduras, where it was received by other traffickers. Eventually the cocaine was transported by land through Honduras and Guatemala, and it was then delivered to Mexican cartels for importation into the United States. Fagot-Maximo received tens of millions of dollars in U.S. currency for the sale and delivery of this cocaine.
He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison when sentenced on March 29, 2019. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case was investigated by the DEA as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Operation Harpoon through DEA’s HIDTA Task Force in Annandale Virginia. The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
Assistance in the investigation and prosecution was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of New York, the Middle District of Florida, and the Southern District of Florida, as well as assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Honduran National Police. Trial Attorney Anthony T. Aminoff of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys James L. Trump and Thomas W. Traxler of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs assisted with the extradition in this matter.