‘El Negro,’ Carlos Arnoldo Lobo Alemán, captured by Honduran Police
By Dialogo April 10, 2014
Honduran security forces recently captured Carlos Arnoldo Lobo Alemán, an alleged international drug trafficker who is believed to be linked with Los Mellos de Kasandra, a transnational criminal organization based in Colombia.
Los Mellos de Kasandra has networks in Mexico, Guatemala, and Panama.
Authorities suspect Lobo Aleman, who is also known as “El Negro,” helped transport cocaine through Honduras for Los Mellos de Kasandra.
Honduran security forces captured El Negro on the morning of March 27, 2014, in the city of San Pedro Sula. El Negro, dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and slippers, drove his late-model Porsche Cayenne to a bakery in the Río de Piedras neighborhood, apparently to get some coffee, authorities said. Bodyguards did not accompany El Negro.
Police captured ‘El Negro’ without a fight
El Negro apparently did not know that Honduran police agents were following him. When El Negro stopped out of his car, the police agents captured him without a fight.
El Negro was unarmed when police captured him, Honduran Army Col. German Alfaro told reporters.
“When he was detained, (El Negro) was under the influence of alcohol, but he was calm,” Alfaro said. El Negro seemed surprised by the arrest, but cooperated when police agents asked him for identification.
Police took El Negro to the base of the 105th Infantry Brigade. By the time El Negro arrived at the military base, “he was sweating and shaking and we asked him if he was alright,” Alfaro said.
Soldiers later transported El Negro by helicopter to another military facility in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.
The day after police captured El Negro, police escorted El Negro to a hearing before the Honduran Supreme Justice Court. A judge ordered that El Negro should be held under preventive arrest in a maximum-security jail in Támara, 17 miles north of the capital.
The U.S. government has two months to present evidence in court to justify El Negro’s extradition, the judge said. The judge scheduled a hearing for April 10, 2014. Authorities have increased security at the prison where El Negro is being held.
Intelligence leads to capture
El Negro had been evading Honduran authorities by hiding out in another country, authorities said. Honduran security forces received intelligence that El Negro had secretly returned to the country in March, and began following him, officials said. As part of the intelligence operation, authorities intercepted more than 150 cell phone calls from people connected to El Negro to determine his whereabouts, El Heraldo reported.
The same day that Honduran police captured El Negro, members of the Inter Institutional Security Force seized four properties allegedly connected to El Negro. One of the properties was in the Trejo neighborhood and two were in the Río de Piedras sector where police captured El Negro. The properties were luxurious compounds which featured swimming pools, extensive gardens and expensive artwork. Police also seized 16 vehicles.
In 2013, Honduran authorities seized nine pieces of land allegedly owned by El Negro near the port of La Ceiba. Collectively, the properties were worth about 1.5 million lempiras
In 2011, the Armed Forces seized about 27 properties and luxury items allegedly owned by El Negro, including vacation homes, business facilities, yachts and several fishing boats. The properties and boats had a collective value of about 300 million lempiras.
El Negro probably used the fishing boats for illegal activities, authorities said. They are fishing boats, but we all know that these vessels are used for other purposes, like the transportation of drugs,” said Marlon Pascua, the defense minister at the time.
In 1997, when Lobo Alemán applied for his national identification card, he declared that he was a low-income seaman who labored for an unnamed entrepreneur in Roatán, the major island of the Honduran archipelago in the Caribbean.
President determined to restore peace
The capture of El Negro is an important victory in the country’s fight against transnational criminal organizations and a key step in the effort to improve public safety, President Juan Orlando Hernández said.
“The journey has begun and that is the route to follow,” Hernández declared. “We are committed to recover the country’s peace and tranquility. Whoever breaks the law has to be punished. If you don’t want to have problems, it is very simple: Do not break the law.”
A strong case
The U.S. government appears to have strong evidence to warrant the extradition of El Negro, said Raúl Pineda Alvarado, a Honduran security analyst.
The Honduran criminal justice system is prepared to deal with extradition requests while protecting the rights of El Negro, said Juan Ramón Martínez, a newspaper columnist who writes often about security issues.
“The Honduran judicial system has been perfecting itself these past years,” Martínez said. “I trust that this process will unfold within the legal framework that respects all the rights of the accused party, but if he and others have incurred in any delinquent activity and it is proven that they have, Honduras has to do what it has committed to do in extradition accords signed with other countries.”