Leader Of Houston-Based Drug Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty To Leading Large-Scale Methamphetamine Distribution And Importation Conspiracy
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Wendy Woolcock, Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today that GEOVANNY DANIEL FUENTES RAMIREZ was charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and related weapons offenses involving the use and possession of machineguns and destructive devices. DEA agents arrested FUENTES RAMIREZ on March 1, 2020, at Miami International Airport as he attempted to depart the United States, and was presented yesterday afternoon in Miami federal court.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez was, up until his arrest by the DEA two days ago, a prolific, powerful, and murderous cocaine trafficker in Honduras. As further alleged, Fuentes Ramirez paved the way for unimpeded shipment of multi-ton loads of cocaine by bribing police and a high-ranking Honduran politician, and reporting directly to Tony Hernandez, another co-conspirator in the scheme and himself a former Honduran congressman. Thanks to the DEA, a key player in the unholy alliance of Honduran officials and drug traffickers is now in custody and facing a possible life behind bars.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Wendy Woolcock said: “The arrest of Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez is yet another example of DEA’s perseverance to bring to justice criminal associates of corrupt Honduran public officials and law enforcement officers who enabled the trafficking of massive amounts of cocaine headed to the United States. These corrupt arrangements resulted in horrible violence in Honduras and beyond. The DEA will continue to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those who participated in these activities, threatened the rule of law, and operated with complete disregard for human life for their financial gain.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint charging FUENTES RAMIREZ, evidence presented at the October 2019 trial of Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado in the Southern District of New York, and statements in open court during the prosecution of Hernandez Alvarado:
Between approximately 2004 and 2020, multiple drug trafficking organizations in Honduras and elsewhere worked together, and with support from certain prominent public and private individuals, including Honduran politicians and law enforcement officials, to receive multi-ton loads of cocaine sent to Honduras from, among other places, Colombia via air and maritime routes, and to transport the drugs westward in Honduras toward the border with Guatemala and eventually to the United States. For protection from law enforcement interference, and in order to facilitate the safe passage through Honduras of multi-ton loads of cocaine, FUENTES RAMIREZ and other drug traffickers paid bribes to Honduran public officials, including certain members of the Honduran National Police and the Honduran National Congress. For example, following an October 2019 trial in the Southern District of New York, former Honduran congressman Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado was convicted of drug trafficking, weapons, and false statements charges related to his role in this scheme. Hernandez Alvarado is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel on April 15, 2020.
Beginning in or about 2009, FUENTES RAMIREZ and others established and operated a cocaine laboratory in the Cortés Department of Honduras, where they produced hundreds of kilograms of cocaine each month. FUENTES RAMIREZ worked with others to receive cocaine shipments and transport cocaine that he produced, including using planes that landed and departed from a clandestine airstrip that he operated near the Cortés Department. In order to protect these large quantities of cocaine and his foothold as a large-scale drug trafficker in Honduras, FUENTES RAMIREZ and his workers used firearms, including 9 millimeter handguns, AK-47 assault rifles, and AR-15 assault rifles, and resorted to significant acts of violence, including murder. In or about 2012, for example, after FUENTES RAMIREZ’s cocaine laboratory was raided by law enforcement, FUENTES RAMIREZ participated in the stabbing murder of a law enforcement official who FUENTES RAMIREZ believed to have been involved in the investigation of the laboratory.
In or about 2013, FUENTES RAMIREZ paid at least approximately $25,000 to a high-ranking Honduran official referred to in the Complaint as “CC-4,” in exchange for protection from further interventions by law enforcement targeting FUENTES RAMIREZ and his drug trafficking activities. Around the time of the bribe, during a series of meetings between FUENTES RAMIREZ, CC-4, and others, CC-4 expressed interest in access to FUENTES RAMIREZ’s cocaine laboratory because of its proximity to a major commercial shipping port, agreed to facilitate the use of Honduran armed forces personnel as security for FUENTES RAMIREZ’s drug trafficking activities, and instructed FUENTES RAMIREZ to report directly to Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado for subsequent drug trafficking activities.
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The Complaint charges FUENTES RAMIREZ, 50, with: (1) conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, (2) using and carrying machine guns and destructive devices during and in relation to, and possessing machine guns and destructive devices in furtherance of, the cocaine importation conspiracy; and (3) conspiring to use and carry machine guns and destructive devices during and in relation to, and to possess machine guns and destructive devices in furtherance of, the cocaine importation conspiracy. If convicted, FUENTES RAMIREZ faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison on Count One, a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison on Count Two, a maximum term of life in prison on Count Three.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s Special Operations Division Bilateral Investigations Unit and Strike Force.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda L. Houle, Matthew J. Laroche, Jason A. Richman, and Elinor L. Tarlow are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges in the Complaint are merely accusations, and FUENTES RAMIREZ is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase