This summary is based on the Spanish language reporting published by Pro-Honduras Network (ProHN) and live twitter feed from Inter City Press. Watch the ProHN video posted below:
What Happened Today:
** Two witnesses testified: Honduran historian Darío Euraque and Amilcar Alexander Ardon Soriano, former National Party mayor from El Paraíso, Copan.
Key Details that Surfaced:
** In 2009, Ardon gave ex-President Lobo and JOH $2 million dollars, and $1 million just to JOH through Tony for their campaigns in exchange for protection, security, information about radars and police/military activities, and also, a government position for his brother, Hugo Ardon. Ardon was in the meeting when El Chapo gave $1 million in plastic bags for JOH’s campaign. This brings total donations to JOH and Lobo’s campaigns to $4.04 million.
** In 2009, Ardon met with former President Lobo and JOH in the National Party headquarters in San Pedro Sula and openly discussed drug trafficking.
** El Chapo moved tonnes of cocaine in transport trucks owned by Televisa (a mass Mexican media company).
** Ardon and Tony were major providers of cocaine to ‘El Chapo’ and the Sinaloa cartel
** Ardon corroborated ‘El Rojo’s’ testimony who named Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla, former Head of National Police as being involved in drug-related killings. Tony’s direct participation in at least two killings was also confirmed.
What Will Happen Tomorrow:
** Witness Amílcar Alexander Ardon will continue testifying
** Another witness may be called if there is time.
** Various family members (at least 8) in the Hernandez family were present including JOH/Tony’s mother, their brother Amilcar Hernandez, and others.
o Many in the family were taking notes of what was being said in the trial.
** Ardon testified for 3 hours, 40 minutes today and the prosecutor told the judge at the end of the day that he still had 3 more hours of questioning.
Testimony of Honduran historian Darío Euraque:
** Profile: Works at Trinity College in Connecticut, was part of President Zelaya’s Cabinet from 2006-2009, has published seven books.
** Explained the profile of various individuals (Alexander Ardon, Soraya Calix, etc) in the list that was given to the jurors on the first day of the trial.
** Discussed what OABI is (the Honduran government institution in charge of confiscating assets obtained through illicit activities) and mentioned that few of Tony Hernandez’s assets had been confiscated.
** Explained the power that Congressional representatives, their substitutes, mayors, etc, have in the context of Honduran politics.
** Tony’s defense attempted to associate the witness with the LIBRE Party saying that Euraque is disgruntled with the government (and thus speaking negatively about JOH) because he was remove from his position (like all of Zelaya’s Cabinet) during/after the coup.
o Questioned his credibility by presenting interviews he had previously given to different media.
** Explained different extraditions from Honduras, illegal re-election, 2013 and 2017 electoral frauds, etc. etc.
Testimony from Collaborating Witness, Amilcar Alexander Ardon Soriano:
(Divided into sub-sections for clarity)
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS (TONY’S REACTIONS IN COURTROOM)
** During certain moments of Ardon’s presentation, Tony seemed nervous. Normally Tony gives the impression that he’s relaxed but as soon as Ardon entered the courtroom, he got nervous and starting fidgeting with a pen.
o At one point during Ardon’s testimony, Tony took his defense attorney’s laptop and starting typing something.
o In previous hearings, Tony has attended in his prison uniform – a dark, navy blue one-piece suit, which is the uniform used in Metropolitan Correction Center (located across the street from the NY Southern District court).
o Today, Ardon was dressed in a beige uniform. It seems like he is not being held in the Metropolitan Correction Center like the majority of extradited Honduran drug traffickers. Its possible Ardon is being held in Brooklyn.
ARDON’S DRUG TRAFFICKING & HANDING HIMSELF OVER TO US AUTHORITIES
** Ardon turned himself over to US authorities in March 2019 after Tony was arrested. Tony, former President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, and JOH helped provide protection to Ardon. After Tony was arrested, Ardon decided to just turn himself in thinking that Tony may be giving US authorities information about him.
o Ardon plead guilty to drug trafficking and weapons smuggling
o He admitted to being involved in 56 assassinations and injuring at least 4 people.
** From 2010 to 2018, he transported between 30 to 40 tons of cocaine to the US
** Ardon ran drug labs in Honduras and stamped his cocaine with double As. He said he had seen other stamps like Tony’s TH stamp, also Nike, a stick figure, and a star.
THE DRUG BUSINESS: ARDON, TONY, OTHER DRUG TRAFFICKERS & EL CHAPO GUZMAN
** In 2011, he saw the first shipment of cocaine stamped with TH. He corroborated what ‘El Rojo’ said regarding the TH stamp.
** Said that Ardon met Tony Hernandez in La Entrada, Copan where they met many times. The first time, they didn’t talk about drug trafficking but later would speak about it frequently.
** In 2011, Ardon sent cocaine to El Chapo Guzman using the trucks of the mass Mexican media company Televisa. The deal involved Tony Hernandez, Noel and Victor Blanco, and the Valle brothers.
** In 2013, Tony, Ardon, Mario Jose Calix Hernandez, Hugo Ardon (1), Don Amado (El Chapo’s contact/associate in Guatemala), Melvin Pinto, Oto Salgado and Ronaldo Salgado met with ‘El Chapo’ met in El Paraiso, Copan.
o During the meeting, El Chapo asked Tony if he could provide his contact information to be in closer touch. Then El Chapo sent Don Amado to the car to get the $1 million dollars that El Chapo gave to JOH’s campaign in 2013. Ardon said that the money was wrapped in plastic bags and they counted it together.
o Tony, Ardon, and Wilter Blanco were El Chapo’s suppliers in Honduras.
o Ardon mentioned that he met with ‘El Chapo’ 6 times. The first time was in 2007.
** In 2011, Ardon mentioned to Tony that he had drug labs and Tony said he did as well in Lempira. The labs were used to fix spoiled cocaine packages that had been damaged or gotten wet. They would repackage them to send them to the US.
** Ardon spoke with Tony about Los Cachiros in 2010. Tony was worried because he wanted to use the route from Gracias a Dios to Colon. Ardon said that he had an agreement with Wilter Blanco (2) and was going to work with them in this route.
** The Valle Valle cartel (3) worked in El Espiritu, El Copan and were Ardon and Tony’s associates. The Valles had a worker named ‘Toño Frontera’ (4) who helped with transporting drugs. He was the Valle contact with Guancho León in Guatemala.
** El Chapo met with Tony personally between 2008 and 2013.
** El Chapo moved his drugs in Televisa trucks. In these trucks, up to 6000 tons of cocaine could fit inside these trucks. Ardon said that in 2007, El Chapo confessed that he used Televisa trucks. Ardon offered 2 tons for a shipment but said he would put El Chapo in contact with Tony because Tony was Ardon’s provider at that time. Ardon didn’t have drug labs that could produce large quantities but Tony did with his partner ‘El Cinco’ in Colombia.
o Mentioned that he (Ardon) talked to Tony, telling him that he needed drugs to fill a shipment of 2 tonnes.
o The first shipment that they sent to El Chapo left from San Pedro Sula, passed through El Paraiso, Copan. Tony provided 1000 kilos. All the shipments were protected by Tony and all the information needed about police posts and radars were provided by Tony as well (this verifies what El Rojo testified).
o They never sold shipments to El Chapo that were less than 1000 kilograms. Tony took one shipment of 1000 kilograms from San Pedro Sula to La Entrada, Copan in helicopter.
** Ardon said that he had to use transport trucks at one point to move the drugs he sold to El Chapo.
** Ardon paid Tony $10,000/kilogram of cocaine (corroborating what El Rojo said) and he would then sell it for $11,000/kilogram in Guatemala.
** Ardon talked about two assassinations that Tony Hernandez participated in directly.
** Tony produced drugs in his labs in Colombia and transported them through Panama to Honduras, then to Guatemala, and then into the hands of Mexican cartels or directly to US markets (when they could no longer sell to El Chapo). Helicopters could only transport a total of 350-500 kilograms, so they started using boats and submarines. Tony told Ardon that boats could transport more drugs.
** The first shipment by boat was 750 kilos in 2011. Ardon transported them into Guatemala.
** Submarines and boats were sent from Colombia through Panama bay into Costa Rica and Nicaragua to the coasts of three departments in Honduras: Gracias a Dios, Colon and Atlántida. These people had contacts like Wilter Blanco who worked with the Los Cachiros cartel and routes would be divided into sectors where each worked. At times, each would work their sector but there were also times when there were conflicting interests.
** Mentioned that Wilton Blanco was an associate of Ardon. (Blanco may also be a collaborating witness). In 2004, they started working in Gracias a Dios, Colon, and Atlántida departments, which were departments where Blanco worked.
** Ardon estimated that he moved 250 tons of cocaine and that his relatives participated including Hugo Ardon and Lionel Leiva.
** A piece of evidence, one M-60 engraved with “Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of Honduras” next to a Honduran flag, was presented. According to Ardon, Tony Hernandez showed Ardon the photographs of various arms including the M-60 and AK47s.
o Also presented other weapons (or pictures of them) as evidence including an R15, revolvers, bazooka, M16, M60s, etc.
** President Lobo and JOH conspired, provided security, and collaborated to move thousands of tons of cocaine.
INVOLVEMENT OF HONDURAN POLICE AND MILITARY AND POLICE IN TRAFFICKING DRUGS:
** Ardon testified that Porfirio Lobo sent two loads of military (approximately 120 military) to the border to protect the border because a powerful Guatemalan drug trafficker named Orellana was threatening their business.
o When Ardon told Tony about the threats, Tony responded that only Pepe Lobo could order protection at the border.
o Pepe Lobo then sent the military to the Guatemala/Honduras border and the military stayed there for 2 months. They were armed with bazookas and M16s.
** Tony received all the information needed to protect drug shipments from his and JOH’s cousin, Mauricio Hernandez. Mauricio Hernandez was also involved in drug-related killings ordered by Tony.
** Ardon said today that Tony Hernandez would participate in killing people that threatened interests. Tony would ask former head of police, Juan Carlos ‘El Tigre” Bonilla to carry out killings.
o Ardon gave one example of Franklin Arita Mata (5), who was refusing to run drugs through his territory into Guatemala. Tony told Ardon that Arita would have to be killed and that he would call the Copan police chief Bonilla and get it done. Another man named ‘El Chino’ also threatened Ardon’s business and Tony told Ardon that El Chino would have to be killed because El Chino had all the information about the helicopters.
o El Tigre Bonilla was mentioned as being one of the critical people that carried out assassinations as requested by Tony Hernandez.
DONATIONS & BRIBES TO ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS
** Ardon gave bribes to finance National Party campaigns in 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2014. His largest contribution was $2 million for campaigns of Porfirio Lobo and JOH in 2009 (after the coup).
o The money was handed over to Tony Hernandez and Porfirio Lobo. He always supported the National party campaigns, not just Presidential or congressional campaigns, but also mayors. In exchange, both were to provide security for his shipments of drug through the Minister of Defense and Security.
o Ardon also asked for a position for his brother, Hugo Ardon, who was named head of ‘Fondo Vial’ (Honduran institution responsible for highway maintenance and construction). Around 2009-2010, a road was paved in Copan specifically upon request from Ardon because it was a major drug transit route.
** Ardon said he spoke with directly with JOH via telephone in December 2009 and JOH mentioned that he needed him to help bribe Congressional reps in Copan to vote for his election to the President of Congress. JOH said he would be protected and Hugo Ardon would get a government position.
o Ardon accepted to bribe Congressional reps in Copan so they would vote for JOH to be President of Congress.
** Ardon met with Porfirio Lobo in 2008 on a helicopter pad. Pofirio asked for money to finance the National party campaign and to finance mayors in Copan. Porfirio Lobo said that JOH would be the next President if they won and that he needed money to help finance JOH’s campaign as well. All of this for protection and guaranteed position for his brother, Hugo Ardon.
o Ardon first gave $1 million in bribes in packages of dollars between $50,000 to $100,000 in black bags.
o The second meeting was in 2009 in the headquarters of the National Party in San Pedro Sula where Ardon met with Pepe Lobo and JOH and spoke openly about drug trafficking. Pepe confirmed that he received the $1 million (the first part of his contribution) for his campaign.
o Porfirio Lobo told JOH needed a contribution to win the Presidency of the Congress
o One month after, Ardon met with Tony Hernandez, Mario Calix and Hugo Ardon in Santa Rosa de Copan where Tony said he was working with Colombians he had met through the Valle Valle cartel. Tony told him that if the National Party won the elections, Ardon would have access to information about the radars.
o In 2009 when they won, Ardon had this access and began moving drugs with Tony’s helicopters that Ardon paid $50,000/trip to use. Tony provided the pilots and the information about the radar so that the helicopters wouldn’t be stopped.
(1) HUGO ARDON is collaborating witness and confessed drug trafficker, Amilcar Alexander Ardon Soriano. Hugo was appointed to the head of Fondo Vial, which is the Honduran institution responsible for the maintenance, construction, administration, etc. of the highway and road system in Honduras. Hugo Ardon resigned from the position in 2015.
The Fondo Vial has been “intervened” by Honduran investigative bodies because of contracts that were signed between the state fund and the Los Cachiros drug cartel including one contract in 2012 for 18.1 million lempiras [$740,000 USD] to allegedly build a highway in northern Honduras.
(2) WILTER NEPTALI BLANCO RUIZ is a drug trafficker that headed the Atlantic Cartel in Honduras. The cartel operated in the eastern department of Gracias a Dios, Colon, the Bay Islands, and Atlátida. Blanco was arrested in Costa Rica and extradited to the United States in mid-2019. He was allegedly responsible for sending shipments of cocaine to South Korea and ordering the killings of Julian Aristides Gonzalez Irías and Gustavo Alfredo Landaverde hernandez, two high-level official in the national anti-narcotics agency.
(3) VALLE VALLE CARTEL was a powerful drug trafficking cartel in Honduras, largely based along the Guatemala border but into the department of Santa Barbara as well. The cartel was a family-run business that included Miguel Arnulfo Valle Valle and his two brothers, Luis Alfonso and Jose Reynerio. Their sister, Digna Valle Valle, was also involved but she was the first arrested by US authorities in July 2014. Miguel Anulfo and Luis Alfonso were extradited to the US in December 2014.
(4) “TOñO FRONTERA” or Héctor Antonio Vásquez Torres, was convicted and sentenced to 16 years in March 2017 with three others – two Mexicans and one Honduran (at least one of them also requested for extradition to the US – for conspiring or attempting to murder President Juan Orlando Hernandez.