Honduras closes bank linked to the Sinaloa cartel

Banco Continental is owned by the Rosenthals, one of the families with more political and economic power in the country.

Yesterday hundreds of Hondurans formed long lines outside the bank branches to recover their funds. (Photo: Jorge Cabrera / Reuters)
English 13/10/2015 12:18 José Meléndez / corresponsal Actualizada 12:18
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Honduras' government closed Banco Continental after it discovered that the bank moved money of Los Cachiros, a drug mafia linked to the Sinaloa cartel and the Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

The bank is owned by the Rosenthals, one of the families with more political and economic power in Honduras linked to the opposition Liberal Party. The family also owns the newspaper Tiempo, the cable TV channel Canal 11, as well as businesses in the finance, real estate, agricultural and tourist industries.

On October 7 the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of Jaime Rolando Rosenthal Oliva, 79; along with his son, Yani Benjamin Rosenthal Hidalgo, 50; and his nephew, Yankel Antonio Rosenthal Coello, 46, as specially designated narcotrics traffickers.

According to OFAC, the three businessmen “provide money laundering and other services that support the international narcotics trafficking activities of multiple Central American drug traffickers and their criminal organizations.”

The U.S. government also said that Banco Continental served “as an integral part of the Rosenthal money laundering operations and facilitated the laundering of narcotics proceeds for multiple Central American drug trafficking organizations.”

The OFAC added that its “action targets seven key Rosenthal businesses including their principal Panamanian holding company, Inversiones Continental (Panama), S.A. de C.V., known as Grupo Continental.  Grupo Continental is the parent company of a conglomerate of businesses in Honduras involved in banking, financial services, real estate, agriculture, construction, tourism, and media.  Announced along with Grupo Continental are its agricultural arm, Empacadora Continental S.A de C.V. (now known as Alimentos Continental), and two of its key financial components, Inversiones Continental, S.A. (a.k.a. Grupo Financiero Continental) and the Honduran bank, Banco Continental S.A., headquartered in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.”

In June Rosenthal Oliva admitted to have made banking businesses with Los Cachiros,while Rosenthal Coello was arrested on drug charges last Tuesday in Florida.

Devis Leonel and Javier Eriberto Rivera Maradiaga, leaders of Los Cachiros, presumably fled Honduras by sea in January and surrendered to U.S. authorities.

Los Cachiros operated in the northeastern Honduran department of Colón as intermediaries of the Sinaloa Cartel. They received drugs coming from Colombia and Venezuela and forward them to Mexico and the United States.

Yesterday hundreds of Hondurans formed long lines outside the bank branches to recover their funds.

The Honduran government said that each of the 220,000 account holders will recover up to US$9,000 of their funds and guaranteed that there is enough money to pay them back.

 

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