January 25, 2012

More on Celín Pinot Hernández

Celin Eduardo Pinot Hernández
Celín Pinot Hernández, alias "Cabeza"

I previously wrote that Celín Pinot had not served nine years in prison as Miami Herald reported. I determined that based on the articles about his death which reported that he was serving nine years for the July 2009 crime. But I was wrong. Maybe reporters were purposely misled by police or maybe they assumed the same that I did, that Pinot had served his time for the 2001 murder and/or 2003 attempted murder and was out committing new crimes. I tried to find more, but the newspapers search functions don't go back that far.

My source clarified that for me.

Celín Pinot was in prison at least since 2003, which might have been on the 2001 murder charge. My source says that "he was in prison for a time and then out for a few weeks and then back in again. Whenever he wanted out, he just had to pay off the police for each week he was out. People from DGIC (police criminal investigation) came and collected the money from him so that he could stay out even though he was supposedly serving his prison sentence. He had to pay for his vacations." This practice of letting out criminals was also confirmed by a friend of friend who was being held for a time in the La Ceiba jail and spoke of a narco who spent his days handling business and voluntarily returned to jail at night.

Regarding the July 2009 crime, the source said this: "In 2009 he was arrested near to Camosa, below the airport in Tegucigalpa. When he was arrested he was supposed to be IN jail, but he was out on a paid-for vacation and the police knew it. But he paid them to be able to leave prison and paid them weekly or monthly to stay out, so he did the kidnappings and the robberies and paid the police from money earned but when it got too 'hot' for the police then they would arrest him again and back to jail he would go to finish his sentence. The police never did the paperwork for him to have to go to jail for additional charges, like for escaping or the additional kidnappings, etc."

So when police were telling reporters about Pinot's nine-year sentence, they either falsely stated or implied it was from the 2009 crime, because to do otherwise would have shown that he had been allowed to leave prison by the very police who were making such a show of capturing this dangerous criminal. Note also that the July 2009 article mentions that witnesses saw the abduction in process and called the police. The article congratulates the police on their quick action. But maybe the real story is that because of the witness calls, they did not know who the perpetrator was and then had to deal with that potential embarrassment once they realized who had been captured.

The source goes on: "The last charge he had pending was this 2009 secuestro (kidnapping/carjacking) case. He went to court on that but was released the same day (October 13, 2011) because no witnesses came to testify against him. The police showed up, but the case was poorly put together, so the case was thrown out. He was given the carta de libertad (get out of jail letter) which was delivered by the court to the prison at 7:00 PM the same day and then they forced him to leave at 11:00 pm at night when the police killed him." This sounds similar to the case of narcotrafficker Begué in La Ceiba, who was murdered shortly after his questionable release from prison, according to this El Faro article [in Spanish].

It seems obvious that Celín Pinot represented a huge risk to the police, given their complicity in releasing this dangerous criminal on the public and even demanding a cut of the crime profits if what the source says is true. As long as he was 'serving time', the police had the option and could hold the threat over his head of picking him up and keeping him in prison or worse, arranging that he be one of the frequent prisoner murder victims in 'gang disputes' that so often happens in Honduran prisons. Once Pinot was legally free, he might talk. Or maybe he might not be so agreeable to turn over a portion of his profits to the police. Or maybe one side or the other got too greedy and an example to other criminals had to be made.

The source goes on to show the close connections between National Director of the Police, Ramírez Del Cid, and Commissioner of DSEI, Danilo Orellana: "They were married at the same time on the same date in the same wedding ceremony with the ex-director of the police Flores Ponce as the padrino of the wedding. They have been really close ever since police cadet school and are always into everything together."

The source also gives some financial details: "They own property together and owned a large piece of land in Jicaro Galán in Valle in the south of Honduras. They sold that land to the police cooperativo for a lot more money than it was worth. Now the member police can't get loans, because the cooperativo has no money for loans — yet another story that everyone is afraid to publish. Del Cid also owns a "company" which rebottles palm oil located in Germania and he uses lots of police to guard it. Orellano has chicken restaurants."

It seems pretty clear that Celín Pinot Hernández was a bad guy, a violent criminal, and probably even a murderer. Reader comments on the news story of his death were generally congratulatory toward whoever killed the three pandilleros (gang members). Some mentioned the price of L.200,000 as the cost of 15 days outside of prison and mentioned it was a common practice. Some speculated that the police had killed them. But police who think they have the right to kill will also kill innocents, as they did a week later when two university students were murdered by police in Tegucigalpa.

The Honduran media should be able to verify when Pinot was convicted and the sentence he received. They should also be able to confirm whether the case for the July 2009 kidnapping/carjacking was thrown out on October 13, 2011, and whether or not he should have still been serving a prison sentence at the time of the crime. Certainly the DIECP (new commission created to probe police corruption) should be able to investigate this and the financial aspects.
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