Second Former Honduran Mayor Charged With Conspiring To Import Cocaine Into The United States

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Amilcar Alexander Ardon Soriano, former mayor of El Paraíso, Honduras, Charged with Crimes Relating to Large-Scale Drug Trafficking; Separate Charges Also Filed Against Mario Jose Calix Hernandez, an Alleged Co-Conspirator of Former Honduran Congressman J

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Christopher Tersigni, the Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today that charges have been filed in Manhattan federal court against former Honduran mayor Amilcar Alexander Ardon Soriano and, in a separate Superseding Indictment, Mario Jose Calix Hernandez. The charges in each indictment include conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and related weapons offenses involving the use and possession of machineguns and destructive devices. The United States is seeking the defendants’ extraditions from Honduras and Guatemala.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Amilcar Alexander Ardon Soriano and Mario Jose Calix Hernandez each conspired to import massive quantities of cocaine into the U.S. and used heavy weaponry to protect drug shipments. Ardon Soriano allegedly used his position as a Honduran mayor to facilitate his own drug trafficking, and to exact a ‘tax’ on other traffickers, making millions of dollars in the process. Thanks to the DEA, both men now face criminal charges in the U.S.”

As alleged in the Indictments filed in federal court:[1]

From at least in or about 2004, up to and including in or about 2016, 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 official interference, and in order to facilitate the safe passage through Honduras of multi-hundred-kilogram loads of cocaine, drug traffickers paid bribes to public officials, including certain mayors and members of the National Congress of Honduras.

Ardon Soriano was previously the mayor of El Paraíso, Copán, in Honduras. Between approximately 2000 and approximately 2015, including at times while acting as mayor of El Paraíso, Ardon Soriano engaged in large-scale drug trafficking activities with traffickers located in, among other places, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Ardon Soriano is the second former Honduran mayor charged in the Southern District of New York with crimes related to drug trafficking. In July 2018, Arnaldo Urbina Soto, the former mayor of Yoro, Honduras, was charged in a separate Indictment with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and related firearms offenses. See United States v. Urbina Soto, et al., 18 Cr. 497 (DLC).

As alleged in the Indictment, Ardon Soriano participated in processing, receiving, transporting, and distributing large loads of cocaine that arrived in Honduras via planes and go-fast vessels. In Honduras, Ardon Soriano had access to at least one cocaine laboratory as well as a clandestine airstrip that was used to receive cocaine-laden aircraft dispatched from South America. Ardon Soriano and others participated in providing heavily armed security for cocaine shipments transported within Honduras, including by members of the Honduran National Police and drug traffickers armed with, among other weapons, machineguns. Ardon Soriano also leveraged his power in El Paraíso by charging a per-kilogram tax on cocaine transported by other traffickers through the area that he controlled. As a result of these illegal activities, Ardon Soriano earned millions of dollars from the distribution and sale of the cocaine that he worked with others to import into the United States. Ardon Soriano used some of the drug proceeds to fund political campaigns in Honduras for himself and one or more of his associates.

As alleged in a separate Superseding Indictment, between in or about 2005 and in or about 2016, Calix Hernandez participated in large-scale drug trafficking with traffickers located in, among other places, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Like Ardon Soriano, Calix Hernandez and others participated in providing heavily armed security for cocaine shipments transported within Honduras, including by members of the Honduran National Police and drug traffickers armed with, among other weapons, machineguns. Calix Hernandez’s co-defendant and alleged co-conspirator is Juan Antonio Hernandez Alvarado, a/k/a “Tony Hernandez,” a former member of the National Congress of Honduras and the brother of the current president of Honduras. On November 23, 2018, Hernandez Alvarado was arrested in Miami. He was subsequently brought to the Southern District of New York and faces the same drug trafficking and firearms charges as Calix Hernandez as well as an additional charge of making false statements to U.S. federal agents.

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Ardon Soriano, 43, a citizen of Honduras, is charged in three counts: (1) conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, (2) using and carrying machineguns and destructive devices during, and possessing machineguns and destructive devices in furtherance of, the cocaine importation conspiracy, and (3) conspiring to use and carry machineguns and destructive devices during, and to possess machineguns and destructive devices in furtherance of, the cocaine importation conspiracy.

Calix Hernandez, 36, a citizen of Honduras, is charged in three counts in a separate Superseding Indictment: (1) conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, (2) using and carrying machineguns and destructive devices during, and possessing machineguns and destructive devices in furtherance of, the cocaine importation conspiracy, and (3) conspiring to use and carry machineguns and destructive devices during, and to possess machineguns and destructive devices in furtherance of, the cocaine importation conspiracy.

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