On Wednesday, Yani Rosenthal, a former right-wing congressman, minister and presidential candidate of Honduras, admitted in a Manhattan federal court that he “knowingly” authorized purchases of livestock that helped finance a drug trafficking ring.
The purchases, which amounted to money laundering charges, were made while Rosenthal served as vice president of a family-owned meat packing business called Grupo Continental.
Reuters reported that Rosenthal also admitted that meat exported from his family's company had reached U.S. consumers.
Charges were brought against Rosenthal in 2015. Others charged in the money laundering ring included his father, Jaime Rosenthal, a former Honduran vice-president, his cousin, Yankel Rosenthal, a lawyer representing the family business, Andres Acosta Garcia, and a former minister of investment under current Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Prosecutors accused the group of bribery and laundering narco-trafficking funds through accounts based in the United States.
While Rosenthal has agreed to pay a US$2.5 million dollar fine and forfeit US$500,000 as part of his plea deal, his father remains in Honduras. U.S. authorities are seeking his extradition to be tried.
U.S. District Judge John Koeltl has scheduled Rosenthal's sentencing for October 13. Though he could receive up to 10 years in prison for his crimes, his agreement to cooperate with authorities has reduced his sentencing to between four years and three months and five years and three months.
In a public statement, Joon Kim, Manhattan's acting prosecutor, noted that “this former government official and two-time presidential candidate of Honduras awaits sentencing before a federal United States Judge for his contribution to the worldwide drug crisis.”