Matriarch of Family-Operated Cocaine Business Pleads Guilty

Today, a Honduran woman pleaded guilty to participating in a large-scale conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States.

In court documents, Erlinda Ramos-Bobadilla, aka Herlinda Bobadilla or Chinda, 62, is accused of leading the Montes-Bobadilla drug cartel, or Los Montes- one of the biggest in Honduras. Los Montes operated from Francia, a town in the Department of Colón on the northeastern coast of Honduras.

The organization received cocaine from sources in South America through maritime and clandestine air shipments. The average cocaine shipment carried hundreds, and sometimes more than a thousand kilograms. In order to import and distribute cocaine within the United States, Los Montes worked with other drug traffickers to transport cocaine through Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

There was a strong family ethos at Los Montes. In their cocaine-trafficking business, Ramos-Bobadilla worked closely with her husband, who led the organization. Their son, Noe Montes-Bobadilla, assumed control of the organization after her husband died in 2010. Ramos-Bobadilla remained a key member of the organization’s leadership team.

All aspects of the family’s cocaine trafficking operations were overseen by Ramos-Bobadilla and Noe Montes.

Ramos-Bobadilla employed armed individuals to provide security for her and her cocaine shipments at her direction and control. Furthermore, Ramos-Bobadilla participated in procuring, planning, and arranging acts of violence, including murders.

In December 2009, Los Montes and other Honduran drug-trafficking organizations conspired to murder the head of Honduras’ anti-drug trafficking agency. Los Montes’ involvement in financing that assassination was facilitated by Ramos-Bobadilla.

Ramos-Bobadilla and five co-conspirators were charged with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine for importation into the United States on October 8, 2015. There have been three convictions and sentences in this case against Ramos-Bobadilla’s co-defendants.

The matriarch’s sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2023. In addition to a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, she faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.