Things That Matter

After Helping The US Catch Dozens of Criminals, This Former Drug Lord Now Faces Deportation

The U.S has a massive criminal enforcement network across the world. From Europe to Australia and across Latin America, the United States works with local governments (among others) to play the part of international police force.

This huge network has helped bring down some of the world’s largest criminal organizations. But, often times, it’s not the U.S. officers making the biggest sacrifices – it’s the criminals who join forces with the FBI or DEA as part of a plea bargain. However, those plea agreements don’t always work out in the end.

The leader of one of Honduras’ largest cartels, helped the U.S. bring down serious criminals.

USDEA / DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

According to report by VICE, Valle has a long history of helping U.S. authorities. For example, just months after her arrest, her brothers were extradited to the United States to face charges related to drug trafficking. Meanwhile in Honduras, authorities seized more than 50 properties owned by Los Valles.

Even her own son and daughter weren’t immune. Her son Gerson eventually turned himself in to U.S. authorities after years on the run thanks to his mother. And that came after her daughter was arrested on money laundering charges. Her brothers and son have all since been convicted on drug-related charges.

And although it hasn’t been confirmed, many contribute the arrest of Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernandez – a former congressman and brother of Honduras’ current president – on drug trafficking charges.

Needless to say, this woman has helped U.S. authorities aggressively pursue the dismantling of a massive drug network (along with its ties in the US) across Latin America.

Her criminal empire was especially adept at building coalitions among cartels.

Credit: @AleRyeesH / Twitter

According to court documents, Los Valles was based in Western Honduras – near the Guatemalan border. The family allegedly moved tens of thousands of kilos of cocaine every month – taking the valuable drugs from Colombia, through Honduras, and into the United States using speedboats, submarines and small airplanes

Her organization often worked together alongside Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel – formerly headed by drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán (now serving life in a United States prison).

As the kinder face of the organization, Valle was focused more on finances and logistics instead of violence. In fact, she was often sent to broker new relationships with the country’s criminal and business elites. Sources close to her said she also helped construct churches and gave money to charity during her time in criminal power in Honduras.

Valle was arrested on arrival in Miami by United States law enforcement back in 2014.

Credit: US Dept of Justice

Valle served four and a half years of an 11-year prison sentence and was then realeased. But shortly after being released from prison, she was picked up by ICE and sent to a detention center in Atlanta. Her asylum claim to remain in the United States was denied—a decision she is currently appealing.

Now, after more than six years helping U.S. officials – she’s facing deportation back to Honduras, and likely death.

Credit: Benicia Alvarado / Getty

Since her arrest and plea deal in 2014, Valle has been acting as a key witness for the U.S. She’s helped the government arrest some of the strongest drug lords in the region, including her own organization. If she’s sent back to Honduras – she faces an almost certain death.

“There is a hunt on right now in my country for people who collaborated and then co-operated [with law enforcement] in drug trafficking cases,” former Army Capt. Santos Rodriguez Orellana told VICE by phone from Honduras.

It’s death sentence for her,” according to Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations at the DEA, who also spoke with VICE News.

He added: “Her chances of survival in Honduras are slim to none. Honduras is, without question, a narco state. The highest levels within the political spectrum along with the military and police are in the pockets of drug traffickers. Given the fact that she cooperated in key drug trafficking trials, she is not likely to survive in Honduras. She is going into a fiery cauldron and is definitely going to get burned.”

Her case shows why so few people see the U.S. legal system as a partner – they become disposable just like that.

Credit: US Dept. Of Justice / DEA Task Force LA

As if it wasn’t dangerous enough for Valle to return to Honduras with a network of criminals hunting for their revenge, there’s a hunt for her at the highest levels of government.

Honduras Public Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that Valle faces charges of money laundering in Honduras, and there is a warrant for her arrest. Her arrival in Honduras wont go unnoticed and being imprisoned will offer her little protection from violence.

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