Former Honduran congressman gets 30 years in drug conspiracy

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge in New York sentenced a former Honduran congressman to 30 years in prison Thursday for his role in a large-scale drug trafficking operation that prosecutors said imported more than 30 tons of cocaine into the U.S.

Fredy Renan Najera Montoya had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to import cocaine and a weapons offense. In addition to the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, the 46-year-old Najera was ordered to forfeit $39 million and pay a $10 million fine.

An email message was left Thursday with an attorney representing Najera.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, Najera helped distribute more than 30 tons of cocaine from the region of Honduras that he represented in his government role between 2008 and 2015. That included building clandestine airstrips in Honduras that received cocaine shipments from Venezuela and facilitating the movement of the drug to the western part of Honduras to be transported to the U.S., according to prosecutors.

Security forces protecting the drug ring used military-grade weapons including rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and Najera cultivated relationships with members of the Honduran National Police and military to help traffickers avoid arrest, prosecutors said.

They said he also allegedly introduced members of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel to Honduran officials to provide the cartel with access to the shipping hub in Puerto Cortés, Honduras.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.