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President of Honduras says he faces no US criminal charges

By LUIS ALONSO LUGOAugust 13, 2019
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Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, left, meets with Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, at the Organization of American States, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, left, meets with Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, at the Organization of American States, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández offered assurances Tuesday that he faces no criminal charges in the United States and said recent allegations by U.S. federal prosecutors were based on drug traffickers trying to take revenge against him.

Hernández came to Washington only days after prosecutors accused him of essentially running a narco-state and of having received campaign contributions from cocaine traffickers in exchange for protection.

“That is an allegation from a drug trafficker in a separate trial,” Hernández replied when The Associated Press asked him whether he faces formal charges in the United States.

“We are now seeing the revenge of people who have absolutely zero credibility in the sense that it is now a sustained attack,” the president said outside the headquarters of the Organization of American States.

Hernández said that during his meeting with Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the organization, he discussed details of an agreement to be signed within two weeks with the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, a branch of the OAS. It deals with good practices and technical support in the fight against illegal drug trafficking and drug addiction.

Adam Namm, executive secretary of the commission, known as CICAD, told AP that his team is working on a program to reduce drug demand in Honduras that will be fully funded by the Central American country.

Namm said the recent statements of U.S. federal prosecutors about Hernández did not affect the commission’s work in Honduras.

“It does not come into our calculation. CICAD is a body for hemispheric strategies on drugs and we support the member states of the OAS,” he said.

Hernández said he planned to hold other meetings Tuesday on migration and investments, but declined to identify the parties in those meetings.

President Donald Trump and members of Congress were both out of Washington due to the summer recess.

A spokesperson from the Drug Enforcement Administration said there were no planned meetings with Hernández.

A 49-page document filed in New York’s southern district this month refers to Hernández as a co-conspirator who worked with his brother, Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, and former President Porfirio Lobo “to use drug trafficking to help assert power and control in Honduras.”

Hernández has said the allegations in New York come from drug dealers seeking retaliation against him. He headed the Central American country’s congress in 2012 when the legislature authorized extradition of Honduran nationals to face drug-trafficking charges in the U.S.

Since then, the president’s office said, more than 40 Hondurans have been extradited and others have negotiated plea deals with U.S. officials in exchange for information.

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Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/luisalonsolugo

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