March 4 (UPI) -- U.S. prosecutors said Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from a man charged with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.
The accusation against the Honduran president came in a complaint filed Tuesday, accusing Geovanny Daniel Fuentes Ramirez of conspiring with Honduran politicians and police to operate a cocaine lab and distribute tons of the narcotic into the United States through maritime routes.
According to the complaint, Ramirez is accused of giving Hernandez $25,000 in 2013 "on the understanding that [he] would facilitate protection for Fuentes Ramirez from law enforcement scrutiny."
The complaint also states Hernandez -- who was elected to his first term in 2013 and took office in 2014 -- agreed to deploy the Honduran military as security for Ramirez's drug-trafficking business.
The office of the Honduran president rejected the accusations that he accepted money or coordinated protection as "100 percent false," saying in a statement the allegations were based on "lies from confessed criminals seeking revenge or to reduce their sentences."
The complaint was filed following Ramirez's arrest on Sunday by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents at Miami International Airport as he attempted to leave the country, according to prosecutors.
"[Ramirez] was a prolific, powerful and murderous cocaine trafficker in Honduras," said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a statement. "As further alleged, Fuentes Ramirez paved the way for unimpeded shipment of multiton loads of cocaine by bribing police and a high-ranking Honduran politician and reporting directly to Tony Hernandez, another co-conspirator in the scheme and himself a former Honduran congressman."
Tony Hernandez, brother to Juan Orlando Hernandez, was convicted in October 2016 in the Southern District of New York on charges of conspiring to import cocaine, weapons violations and lying to the DEA.
According to the complaint against Ramirez, Juan Orlando Hernandez told Ramirez that his brother, Tony, was "managing drug-trafficking activities in Honduras" and that he should report to Tony for "purposes of drug-trafficking."
Prosecutors accuse Ramirez of operating a cocaine lab in the Cortes Department of northwestern Honduras since 2009, producing hundreds of kilograms of the illegal street drug a month. Conspiring with others, he allegedly transported the drug with planes departing from a clandestine airstrip. He is also accused of participating in the stabbing death of a law enforcement official he believed to have raided his lab in 2012.
Juan Orlando Hernandez began his second term as president in 2018.