Drug Panel Accuses Defense Minister’s Daughter of Drug Dealing
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ A special panel on drug trafficking charged Wednesday that the daughter of the defense minister and her husband were involved in the cocaine trade.
The commission said Tania Regalado, daughter of Defense Minister Humberto Regalado Hernandez, and her husband, Tony Mateo, smuggled U.S.-bound cocaine into Honduras in electrical appliances from Panama.
The panel said she ″took advantage″ of her well-known name to bring the drug-laden items into Honduras without interference from airport authorities.
Carlos Sosa Coello, a spokesman for the Special Narcotics Investigative Commission, said her whereabouts are not known and she is presumed to have fled the country.
Mateo had been arrested in Guatemala and handed over to U.S. authorities in Miami. However, he was later freed for lack of evidence.
The defense minister’s stepbrother and a former ambassador to Panama, ex- Col. Rigoberto Regalado Lara, is serving a 10-year sentence in Miami for cocaine trafficking.
Regalado Lara was arrested at the Miami airport on May 15 with 25 pounds of cocaine in his suitcase. He was dismissed from the armed forces and stripped of his diplomatic status.
″Honduras has been a transit point for U.S.-bound narcotics since the last part of the 1970s,″ the panel said. It said Honduran authorities confiscated 18,480 pounds of Colombian cocaine from 1984 to 1988.
It said ″a favorite technique″ of drug traffickers has been to buy influence from military leaders with costly gifts and business partnerships. The report was the first from the nine-person commission created in June by the legislature. The results of the ongoing inquiry are to be handed over to judicial officials.