May 1 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors have charged a former Honduras police chief with various drug offenses, including helping to traffic tons of cocaine into the United States.
The Justice Department said the chief, Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares, used his power and help from Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado to ship cocaine through Honduras to the Guatemalan border and, eventually, the United States.
Prosecutors convicted the president's brother, Juan Antonio "Tony" Hernandez Alvarado, on trafficking charges last year. The department lists the Honduran president as a co-conspirator in the case.
Bonilla Valladares faces charges of conspiring to import cocaine and two weapons charges. He faces 30 years to life on the charges.
"Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares allegedly used his high ranking position to influence those working for him and violently protect the politically connected drug traffickers who would smuggle cocaine destined for the United States," DEA Special Agent in Charge Wendy Woolcock said.
"As alleged, this was a blatant and horrific violation of the oath taken by Bonilla Valladares to protect the citizens of Honduras. The filing of these charges is another positive action taken by the United States to bring corrupt officials to justice."
Prosecutors said Bonilla Valladares used violence, including murder, to protect powerful traffickers and political figures.
In Thursday's complaint, prosecutors paint Honduras as a country controlled by drug traffickers since 2003 and a nation where public and private figures involved in trafficking are protected. They said tons of cocaine was shipped from Colombia and Venezuela to the United States.