MEXICO CITY - A former Honduran lawmaker who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy and violence charges in a United States federal court faces at least 40 years in prison.
Court records from the Southern District of New York show that Fredy Najera Montoya submitted a guilty plea Monday to two of the three charges he faced.
Federal prosecutors say Najera ran a drug trafficking operation that moved South American cocaine for Mexico's Sinaloa cartel and worked with other drug trafficking organizations in Honduras. The congressman used clandestine landing strips on his properties to land cocaine-laden planes from Colombia then moved the drugs north to the Guatemalan border.
Honduras has become a major transshipment point for South American cocaine headed to the U.S. Corrupt security forces and large swaths of sparsely populated rural areas and coastlines made it attractive for drug trafficking organizations, which often shipped drugs in small planes or boats and then sent them overland through Guatemala and Mexico.
When U.S. authorities announced the charges in January, Raymond Donovan of DEA special operations said that "Najera used his position in the Honduran Congress to facilitate huge amounts of drug trafficking and corruption, while using security teams possessing dangerous and deadly weapons."
Najera served in the Honduran Congress from 2006 until his arrival in New York in March.
U.S. prosecutors have been pursuing Honduran drug trafficking organizations and the public officials who aided them. Last year, Fabio Lobo, son of former Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, was sentenced to 24 years in prison in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges. Some of the key witnesses in that case had also been scheduled to testify in Najera's case.
Prosecutors also submitted a letter outlining testimony they would have presented at Najera's trial about his participation in organizing and funding the 2009 assassination of Honduran anti-drug czar Julian Aristides Gonzales.
Aristides was investigating Najera and had already seized some of his properties. Najera's sentencing was scheduled for April 19.