Honduran cartel matriarch (62) pleads guilty to cocaine trafficking conspiracy

Herlinda Ramos-Bobadilla (62) was the puppet master behind Honduras’ Montes-Bobadilla (or “Los Montes”) drug-trafficking ring between 2006 and 2015.

Herlinda Ramos-Bobadilla

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

The matriarch of one of Honduras’ biggest drug cartels has pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine into the US.

Herlinda Ramos-Bobadilla (62), also known as Herlinda Bobadilla or Chinda, was the puppet master behind Honduras’ Montes-Bobadilla (or “Los Montes”) drug-trafficking ring between 2006 and 2015.

Ramos-Bobadilla also arranged acts of violence – including murders – and was included in the US Department of State’s “most wanted” list of international criminals alongside Daniel, Christopher Jr, and Christopher Kinahan.

On October 8, 2015, Ramos-Bobadilla and five co-conspirators were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine for importation into the United States.

Last week, Jessica D. Aber, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Division, announced that Ramos-Bobadilla had pleaded guilty to the above charge.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28, 2023 and faces a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“The Los Montes cartel, under the leadership of the defendant and her family, trafficked thousands of kilos of illicit drugs and committed heinous acts of violence, including murder, causing a devastating wave of fear and destruction that reverberated from Honduras to the U.S.,” Ms Aber said.

“My appreciation goes out to all of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners who work tirelessly to dismantle dangerous drug organizations, like Los Montes, that put so many innocent lives at risk.

“This effort is a message to those who continue to operate these cartels: you are not above the law, and you are not beyond our reach.”

Mr Forget added: “The Los Montes Cartel was a vicious drug trafficking organization that poisoned our citizens and engaged in violence to profit from drug trafficking. Our message to criminal organizations’ leadership is clear, we will not waver until drug distribution and it’s related violence is eradicated".

Based in in the Department of Colón in Francia, on the northeastern coast of the country, the family-run Los Montes cartel imported thousands of kilos of cocaine into the United States through Guatemala and Mexico.

Ramos-Bobadilla’s husband had previously served as the leader of the organisation until his death in 2010.

Their son, Noe Montes-Bobadilla, then took over the cartel’s operations while Ramos-Bobadilla continued to serve as a leader, overseeing the family’s cocaine-trafficking business alongside her other sons, Ramos-Bobadilla and Noe Montes.

During her time as head of Los Montes, Ramos-Bobadilla negotiated cocaine transactions with other drug traffickers in Central and South America, managed the gang’s finances, and engaged in bribery, occasionally making payments to police officers and other law officials.

She also employed armed individuals to work as security for her and her cocaine shipments.

Ramos-Bobadilla’s heinous crimes extend even further, however, as the matriarch was also involved in the planning and arranging of many violent acts and murders.

In December 2009, Los Montes and other Honduran drug-trafficking groups conspired to fund the murder of the head of Honduras’s anti-drug trafficking agency, in December 2009.

Along with her son, Noe Montes and, with the assistance of another drug trafficker, Ramos-Bobadilla also participated in coordinating and ordering the murder of a US resident in Tocoa, Honduras in June 2013 because they believed that she was a US government informant.

One of Ramos-Bobadilla's co-defendants, her son Noe Montes-Bobadilla, pleaded guilty after being charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine for importation into the US in November 2018. He was sentenced to 37 years behind bars in April 2019.

Meanwhile, Arnulfo Fagot-Maximo was sentenced to 33 years of in prison while Jose del Trancito Garcia-Teruel was jailed for 13 years in February 2022 in the same case.

One co-defendant, Tito Montes-Bobadilla, also known as Alejandro Montes-Bobadilla or Pimpi, is now deceased.

The remaining co-defendant, Juan Carlos Montes-Bobadilla, known as Mono, is still a fugitive in this case and a bounty of $5 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction is being offered by the US Department of State.

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