Honduran Man Linked to Colombian and Mexican Narcotics Operations
By Dialogo April 11, 2013
On April 9, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of Honduran national Jose Miguel Handal Perez (a.k.a. “Chepe Handal”), as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker (SDNT) pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
Handal’s wife, Ena Elizabeth Hernandez Amaya; his father, Jose Miguel Handal Larach; and several of Handal’s companies located in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, were also designated SDNTs on the same date.
The companies include Corporación Handal, which is comprised of various business ventures including a general merchandise and auto parts store; Supertiendas & Autopartes Handal; JM Troya, a motorcycle brand; and Cleopatra’s, a clothing store. The designation under the Kingpin Act generally prohibit U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the individuals involved, and also freeze any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
Chepe Handal is the head of a Honduran-based drug trafficking organization (DTO) responsible for the coordination and distribution of multi-ton shipments of cocaine from Colombian supply sources into Honduras.
The supplies are distributed to Mexican DTOs, including the Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels, led by Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman Loera and Miguel Trevino Morales, respectively.
Handal invests in and coordinates the receipt of drug-laden aircraft departing from Apure, Venezuela into Honduras via clandestine airstrips.
He also facilities the movement of these drug shipments out of Honduras by land to Guatemala, where members of the Los Zetas and Sinaloa cartels take possession.
“Chepe Handal plays a critical role in the transportation and distribution of drug shipments between South America and the Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. “Today’s action underscores OFAC’s commitment to targeting and disrupting key facilitators of the drug trade wherever they may be.”
On March 3, 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida indicted Chepe Handal with one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine with knowledge that it will be unlawfully imported into the United States.
OFAC has identified 97 drug kingpins and designated more than 1,200 businesses and individuals. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties.
Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison and fines for criminal violation of the Kingpin Act pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code.