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Powerful Honduran family accused of laundering drug money

US authorities have filed charges and slapped sanctions on one of Honduras' most powerful business and political families for laundering drug trafficking money. The head of a top football team has also been indicted.

One of Honduras' most wealthy and politically powerful families has been accused by US authorities of running a decade-long drug money laundering scheme.

The US Justice Department

opened charges

against Jaime Rosenthal, his son Yani Rosenthal and nephew Yankel Rosenthal, on Wednesday for allegedly laundering drug trafficking money,

Separately the US Treasury

announced sanctions

on the three individuals and seven businesses tied to their conglomerate, Grupo Continental. The indictment also charges Andres Acosta Garcia, a lawyer for Grupo Continental.

Yankel Rosenthal, the president of the Marathon football club, was arrested on Tuesday evening in Miami. He was a former minister in the government between January 2014 and June.

The other two Rosenthals remain at large in Honduras. It was not clear if Honduran authorities would extradite them to face charges in the United States.

Jaime Rosenthal is the head of Grupo Continental, the parent company of a businesses ranging from banking and real estate to tourism and media. He unsuccessfully tried to become a presidential candidate for the center-right Liberal party. Jaime's son, Yani Rosenthal, is a former government minister and vice president of Grupo Continental.

The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

The US Treasury labeled the Rosenthals and seven of their businesses "specially designated narcotics traffickers" under the "Kingpin Act" for money laundering for multiple Central American drug traffickers. The alleged offenses ran from 2004 until last month.

Under the sanctions, the Rosenthal's assets in the US will be frozen and US businesses are prohibited from engaging in transactions with Grupo Continental and its targeted subsidiaries. It is the first time US Treasury is targeting a bank under the Kingpin Act.

Honduras has become a key transit point for the trafficking of cocaine and other drugs into the United States. The drug trade has fed

corruption throughout the country

and turned Honduras into one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

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