The brother of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and deputy for the ruling Partido Nacional de Honduras, Juan Antonio Hernandez speaks with the press upon arrival at the Toncontin international airport from the United States, on October 25, 2016 in Tegucigalpa. Former Honduran drug kingpin Devis Leonel Rivera Madariaga confessed on March 16, 2017 before a court in New York having paid a bribe to then deputy Antonio Hernandez. AFP Photo

NEW YORK: A former head of a drug cartel in Honduras serving prison time in the United States said Thursday he bribed the brother of current Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

The claim by Devis Leonel Rivera Madariaga in a New York courtroom deepened allegations he has made of collusion between Honduras’s political class and organized crime bosses.

Last week, Rivera alleged he and his brother, both at the head of the murderous Cachiros cartel, had bribed Hernandez’s predecessor, Porfirio Lobo, whose son is being sentenced by the court for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the US.

On Thursday, Rivera said he had bribed Hernandez’s brother, Antonio Hernandez, a lawmaker, to have him get rid of a government debt the cartel had run up through a company it created to take on public construction contracts and launder drug-trafficking money.

The bribe took place sometime between 2013 and Rivera’s surrender to US authorities in 2015, he said, while Antonio Hernandez was cooperating with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Rivera said he recorded the meeting with Antonio Hernandez.

The lawmaker brother was last year linked to an alleged plot to use a cartel to assassinate President Hernandez and the US ambassador to the Central American country.

President Hernandez announced the plot in October but implicated only the cartel, not his brother, and gave few other details. He said he would defend his brother if it turned out he was involved with drug gangs.

A Honduran army captain, Santos Rodriguez Orellana, said the DEA had pressured him to identify Antonio Hernandez in the alleged plot. The lawmaker has denied any involvement. --AFP

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