MIAMI – Erlinda “Chinda” Ramos-Bobadilla is a grandmother who helped her family make millions in Honduras and lost it all when the U.S. law got to her.
The 62-year-old mother of six became known as a tough negotiator, and as a feared leader of “Los Montes,” a trafficking clan with supply and distribution networks trusted by both Colombians and Mexicans to move South American cocaine north.
Ramos-Bobadilla, also known as Herlinda Bobadilla, operated out of the northeastern coast of Honduras where she was familiar with the logistics of smuggling, deals, and new production ventures, according to federal prosecutors.
Investigators reported Ramos-Bobadilla invested in real estate and employed armed security to protect her family and their investments from enemies, competitors — and the officials, judges, and law enforcement officers who did not take her bribes.
In an environment where loyalty was earned through fear or money, her world collapsed last year after U.S. officials offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to her arrest and conviction.
Her 33-year-old son Alejandro “Tito” Montes-Bobadilla, also known as “Pimpi,” died during the May 15 raid that resulted in her arrest in northern Honduras. Her son Juan Carlos “Mono” Montes-Bobadilla managed to escape. Noé Montes-Bobadilla, her eldest son and a former head of the clan, is in a U.S. prison serving a 37-year sentence.
Honduran authorities paraded her in handcuffs, wearing a beige shawl around her neck, a crisp white shirt, a black skirt, and flat shoes before she was extradited in July to the U.S. to face a charge of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, knowing and intending that it will be unlawfully imported into the U.S.
DEA agents believe Pedro García Montes, of Honduras, started the clan while working with the former Colombian Cali Cartel and he had involved his cousin Álex Adán Montes Bobadilla when he was killed in 2004 in Cartagena.
Ramos-Bobadilla was married to their cousin Alejandro Montes Alvarenga, who was involved in the clan when Álex Montes Bobadilla died of a heart attack in 2014, according to federal agents.
Ramos-Bobadilla, who had five boys and a girl with Montes Alvarenga, pleaded guilty to the U.S. charge in December. She had a son and a daughter who were still minors when she was extradited.
After a federal judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison on Thursday, DEA Special Agent Jarod Forget released a statement saying her sentencing was “a testament to the capabilities and commitment by DEA to ensure that any domestic or foreign criminal who peddles deadly drugs into our neighborhoods and puts our families at risk will be held accountable.”
Juan Carlos Montes-Bobadilla, one of Ramos-Bobadilla’s sons, remains a fugitive on a federal charge out of Virginia of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. There is a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
The DEA is asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to call +1-202-507-9687 or +504-9452 4032.