NEW YORK - Federal authorities in New York filed charges against a Honduran congressman accused of being a member of a violent drug trafficking organization responsible for shipping loads of cocaine into the United States.
Midence Oqueli Martinez Turcios helped the Cachiros drug gang import hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela and Colombia, prosecutors said.
The shipments were then transported within Honduras to Guatemala where they were eventually exported to the U.S., often in coordination with Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.
Turcios is a legislator in the National Congress of Honduras.
The charges, announced Tuesday, include conspiring to import cocaine into the U.S. and related weapons offenses involving the use and possession of machine guns and destructive devices.
Prosecutors are seeking Martinez Turcios' extradition from Honduras. Information on his lawyer was not immediately available.
Martinez Turcios allegedly received more than $1 million in bribes and other payments from the leaders of the Cachiros, which he used to enrich himself and fund his campaign activities and political operations, prosecutors said in a press release.
He also personally escorted some Cachiros cocaine shipments and participated in weapons training provided to paid Cachiros assassins recruited from the gang Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13. The congressman, prosecutors say, also participated in acts of violence perpetrated by members and associates of the Cachiros.
The Honduran legislator is the second Honduran congressman to be charged in connection with U.S. investigations of politically connected drug trafficking in Honduras. Congressman Fredy Renan Najera Montoya was also charged in January 2018.
The U.S. government also announced on Tuesday separate charges against three other associates of the Cachiros, including Arnaldo Urbina Soto, former mayor of the town of Yoro in Honduras. The other two associates are Carlos Fernando Urbina Soto and Miguel Angel Urbina Soto.