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Press Release

Matriarch Sentenced for Role in Violent Multimillion-Dollar Honduran Cocaine Trafficking Organization

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Honduran woman was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for her participation in a large-scale conspiracy to traffic cocaine for importation into the United States.

According to court documents, from 2006 until 2015, Erlinda Ramos-Bobadilla, aka Chinda, 62, served as a leader in the Montes-Bobadilla drug-trafficking organization, or Los Montes, one of the largest drug-trafficking organizations then operating in Honduras. The Los Montes drug-trafficking organization was family-run and based in the town of Francia on the northeastern coast of Honduras. There, the organization received maritime and clandestine air shipments of cocaine from sources in South America. Individual shipments of cocaine usually carried hundreds of – and sometimes more than a thousand – kilograms of cocaine. After receiving a shipment of cocaine, Los Montes worked with other drug traffickers to transport the cocaine inland through Honduras into Guatemala and, eventually, Mexico, where the cocaine would then be imported into, and distributed within, the United States.

“The defendant and her family lead a dangerous drug cartel that brought thousands of kilograms of poisonous drugs into the U.S. from Honduras and left murder, corruption, violence, and terror in its wake. EDVA prioritizes the investigation, dismantling, and prosecution of organizations like The Los Montes cartel that destroy communities across nations,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Today’s sentence would not have been possible without the coordinated efforts of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners who work tirelessly to stop illicit drugs and violence from infiltrating our neighborhoods.”

“Today’s sentencing reflects the Department of Justice’s commitment to holding traffickers like Romas-Bobadilla accountable and dismantling the trafficking organizations they support,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Criminal Division will continue to work tirelessly with our federal, state, and international partners to ensure that our communities are kept safe.”

Ramos-Bobadilla played an active leadership role in Los Montes. Among other responsibilities, she participated in the negotiation of cocaine transactions with other drug traffickers in Central and South America, managed the proceeds that the organization made from the sale of cocaine and, at times, paid sources of supply for cocaine that Los Montes purchased. Ramos-Bobadilla employed armed individuals to work at her direction and control, including by providing security for her and her cocaine shipments.

Ramos-Bobadilla also participated in procuring, planning, and arranging acts of violence, including murders, in furtherance of the conspiracy. For example, Los Montes and other Honduran drug-trafficking organizations conspired to finance the murder of the head of Honduras’ anti-drug trafficking agency in December 2009. In June 2013, along with her son, Noe Montes-Bobadilla, and another co-conspirator, Ramos-Bobadilla also participated in coordinating and directing the murder of a permanent resident of the United States in Tocoa, Honduras, in retaliation for perceived cooperation with the U.S. government.

In addition to her participation in these acts of violence, Ramos-Bobadilla engaged in bribery in furtherance of the conspiracy. Ramos-Bobadilla and her co-conspirators made payments to public officials in Honduras, including police officers and other law enforcement officials, to facilitate and protect the family’s drug-trafficking operations.

“The Montes-Bobadilla Drug Trafficking Organization terrorized and poisoned communities under Ramos-Bobadilla’s leadership,” said Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Washington Field Division. “Today’s sentencing is a testament to the capabilities and commitment by DEA to ensure that any domestic or foreign criminal who peddles deadly drugs into our neighborhoods and puts our families at risk will be held accountable.” 

On Oct. 8, 2015, Ramos-Bobadilla and five co-conspirators were charged by indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine for importation into the United States. Three of Ramos-Bobadilla’s co-conspirators have been convicted and sentenced in this case:

Noe Montes-Bobadilla was sentenced in April 2019 to 37 years in prison. Arnulfo Fagot-Maximo was sentenced in May 2019 to 33 years in prison. Jose del Trancito Garcia-Teruel was sentenced in February 2022 to 13 years in prison. One co-conspirator, Tito Montes-Bobadilla, aka Alejandro Montes-Bobadilla, aka Pimpi, is deceased.

The Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) supported this case.

The DEA Washington Division investigated the case with assistance from FBI’s Washington Field Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., and the Virginia State Police. The Honduran National Police also provided substantial assistance. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of Ramos-Bobadilla.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas W. Traxler, Anthony T. Aminoff, and James L. Trump of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorneys Douglas Meisel and Janet Turnbull of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section prosecuted the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of New York, the Middle District of Florida, and the Southern District of Florida also provided assistance. 

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No.  1:15-cr-290.

Updated March 28, 2023

Drug Trafficking